After 33 years, Candice Morgan has retirement in sight; admits her timing comes amid tumult over the KSS closure issue
It has been an interesting eight years for Candice Morgan to be superintendent of School District 69 (Qualicum).
With declining enrolment and a change to per pupil funding, budgeting has been tougher than ever, expectations of teachers and administrators are shifting and an aging workforce has made succession planning a priority.
“I’ve seen retirement as part of the succession planning work,” said Morgan, who announced recently she would retire at the end of the school year after 33 years in the district.
“When you look at the senior administration ages, senior staff all over the province are retiring and there’s more demand than people with the experience,” she said of the importance of developing leadership capacity throughout the district.
She said the district loses experienced teachers and administrators through retirement or people moving away and it is important to develop plans to maintain organizational capacity.
“I love my job, I’m very engaged,” she said, adding it is time to move on.
“I keep hearing there’s a whole world out there,” and she said she would like to explore it.
“The organization will sustain itself, I don’t have any illusions, someone will be able to come in and do a good job,” said Morgan who will be 61 when she leaves.
“The hard thing about leaving any job is there’s still work to be done.”
She pointed to some of the exciting things developing such as the efficiencies of the transportation and maintenance hub moving to Errington, the addition of Family Place and all day Kindergarten and the “promise of interesting educational changes coming out of government soon.”
She said many of the current issues could change with the provincial legislative agenda considering the leadership races and elections on the horizon and other ongoing high level talks.
She is also excited by the continuing integration of technology, which the young students are leading the way in. “Technology can make all the difference in how special needs are dealt with.”
She admits she is leaving amid some tumult with the possibility of the district closing Kwalikum Secondary School, but she points out funding concerns and the difficulty of balancing the budget is always a huge issue.
“Expectations in public education are changing, there are so many competing demands,” she said hoping the government sees education as an investment.
Along with succession planning her main focus has been “the diverse needs of the diverse students and how better to respond to those needs.”
She said she has tried to do that by looking at how to help teachers be more effective and through working on a good relationships with parents.
“As a parent I respect how much parents know about their kids.”
“I can’t think of anything more important than student learning. We want grads to know what they know, where they’re going, who are self directed, self regulating articulate young people that don’t rely on the opinions or judgments of others.”
“I’m very proud of my connection to the community,” she said of the district’s partners like Building Learning together.
As the biggest employer in Oceanside, Morgan can be very busy working with the board or in meetings and office work but her favourite is when she can get out into the community and the schools.
“I usually see the culmination of events, like concerts… it affirms the daily work that goes on. I really appreciate when I can get out to the schools,” she said adding that it is great to work with the principals who are there on the ground every day and have a lot of excitement to share.
Fond memories include things like being able to look into the eyes of the grads at the commencement ceremonies to congratulate them.
“To see parents and grandparents with cameras and realize it’s such an important moment, it’s always a moving experience, it’s a metaphor for what the system is striving for.”
Morgan who started in the district in 1978 as a teacher has worked at every level and said she has a good memory of each stage which has helped her keep the whole district in mind in her latest role.
“What you learn in every new job is very important,” she said adding she is proud to be able to say she is still learning and will keep finding ways to learn.
While her husband, a principal in the district, is not retiring at the same time, she is considering options like volunteering in some form of educational roll overseas to continue learning.