This year, Marc Garneau C.I. welcomed three new vice principals: Ms. Chang, Ms. Sawh, and Ms. Sutherns. For this edition, Rena Liu interviewed vice-principal Ms. Chang, who is the administrator for grade nine students.
Q: What was your career path to becoming a vice-principal? Were there any obstacles or difficult decisions you had to make?
A: I guess the short answer to this question is that my path was actually quite the journey, one that is still continuing. When I look back, it all seems pretty clear and I can see how things lined up, but at the time, I assure you, it did not seem clear at all!
I really did not know what I wanted to do as a career, but it seemed that I enjoyed every job I had that involved working with kids. When I graduated from the University of Toronto, I landed a job with the Ontario Science Centre – I was one of the people that did Science demonstrations and made people’s hair stand up! It was an amazing job that I loved and then I knew for sure that I wanted to be a teacher.
The issue was that everyone around me was saying that there were no jobs and that there were very limited spots for teacher training programs. I decided to apply to Teacher’s College regardless of the dire prospects. However, I must tell you that I was not accepted. I was very disappointed by this news, but in hindsight, this was perhaps the best thing that could have happened.
A few days after the rejection letter I was surprised by an invitation to join a Teacher Apprenticeship Program with the North York Board of Education. I was paid to apprentice with a teacher and work alongside them in a local school. In addition, when I successfully completed the program, I would be guaranteed a spot at a Teacher’s College the following year. So that is exactly what I did, and I learned so much! I have always felt that not getting accepted to Teacher’s College that year was the best thing that ever happened to me!
I have been teaching for twenty-four years now and I have enjoyed every role in education that I have had the privilege of holding. The best part is that I am still on a learning journey and every day I enjoy coming to school and being a part of this community.
Q: What drew you to become the Grade 9 vice principal? What do you love most about being the grade 9 vice principal?
A: Great question! I wanted to be the Grade 9 vice principal because it is my first year at MGCI and I felt that I would have something in common with our grade nine students who are also new to MGCI. I know that Grade 9 is a very important year as it is the first year where students begin earning credits towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. I also know that High School offers many new opportunities for students in Grade 9 to develop their leadership skills and explore new interests. It is full of new challenges and opportunities. I want to be sure that our MGCI Grade 9 students feel supported and challenged in order to really embrace these new opportunities. I also knew that although I wanted to focus on Grade 9 students, I am part of an amazing Administration and Guidance team that supports all of our MGCI students. Next year, the plan will be that I move with my Grade 9 students to Grade 10, so I am looking forward to getting to know each and every one of you.
Q: What are your favourite hobbies and what items do you still have to cross off your bucket list? Also, are there any activities or hobbies that you have picked up during COVID-19?
A: I am a very proud mom to three beautiful daughters, so I find my life outside of school to be very busy. When I do make time for myself, I really like to find a sunny spot and get lost in a good book. As well, I recently started taking a yoga class, but with COVID my class was cancelled and I have switched to a yoga app. I miss the class – I am more accountable when I am in an in-person class. I have always been fascinated with helicopters and so if anything is on my bucket list, it is learning to fly a helicopter!
During COVID-19, I have missed going to the movies, especially the theatres with the reclining seats. However, in quarantine, my family and I watched a lot of television on Netflix as a substitute. I have always loved sci-fi movies and TV shows, so some of my favourites are Stranger Things and the Mandalorian as well as all of the Star Trek and Star Wars movies. I also enjoy getting outside and going for a walk. I find this helps keep me active and cancel out all the muffins and cookies regularly baked by my family.
Q: What message would you want to give to students during these challenging times?
A: You are not alone. All of us have been impacted by COVID-19. I know that I am very glad to be back at school and connecting with students and colleagues, but I also know that to do this safely, we have all had to make changes and follow safety protocols. I know that the efforts we have made and continue to make do make a difference. We all need to do our part. Be sure to show kindness to others – even in small ways. Taking a moment to smile at someone, even with a mask on, makes a difference. Sending a text to a friend to check in on them shows you care. If you are struggling or know someone who is, reach out for help. Speak to a caring adult – a teacher, a guidance counsellor, or your vice principal. We care about you and are here to help. Let’s be sure to support each other and continue to build a caring and supportive MGCI community.