By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall Elementary School’s long-running principal is retiring after a 40-year teaching career.
Since taking over the principal chair in the early 2000s, Dale Cummings is heading towards a well-deserved retirement once the current school year reaches its conclusion.
“I’ve been the principal at VES for 16 years and I started teaching in 1979 so I thought 2019 makes 40 years of teaching and a good time to step out,” he said in an interview with The Advance last week.
When he does step out of the school for the last time as principal later this month, he says the staff and students will be what he misses most.
“I’m going to miss the staff and the kids, that is the hardest part. I’m not going to miss the book work from the division office and some of the reports we have to do, but the camaraderie of the staff and the smiling faces of kids. From our Grade 5 and Grade 6 athletics and intramurals and I always tease the kids on Tuesdays they have to bring the principal chocolate, they aren’t allowed to eat it, it’s just for me. So we started calling that Chocolate Tuesday. It’s just fun. Those are two highlights that are going to be missed,” he said. “The kids make me smile and laugh every single day. I never have a day where I get up and don’t want to come to school. I don’t know how many hugs and high-fives I get in a day but it makes it all worth it.”
Spending close to two decades in the community, the bonds formed with all of those people will forever be treasured by Cummings.
And while he won’t be at VES as the principal, Cummings is happy to be staying in Vauxhall and continue to be a part of the community.
“There are so many things, over the years at VES I have been blessed with getting to know the families in the Vauxhall area. They have treated me very well,” he said. “I’ll truly miss everyone but I’m not leaving Vauxhall so I will be around. I’m not sure if I will substitute teach or not but I just want to say to the staff, it has been a pleasure to work with these people. I don’t view them as staff that work under me but as people who work with me, and we work together so well. The students, I’m proud to see them over the years come through our school and do great things.”
Over his 16 years as principal, Cummings says it’s hard to nail down a favourite memory but there are quite a few things he was glad to have taken part of.
“I am proud of, even though I have been teaching a long time, we never stayed the same, we are always changing for the better. We research and do best practices and change our ways to make things better,” he said. “I’m also proud of the modernization we went through, we have a beautiful school now.”
Come this fall Sharon Skretting, a former teacher at VES, will be taking over for Cummings.
Cummings knows she is more than ready to fill that position at the school and he hopes to see VES continue forward as it has done for the past many years.
“I know Sharon because she worked out here before and I worked with her. I think the most important part, as a principal, is that the kids are a precious commodity. Every decision has to be made on what is best for those children and that has been my guiding light. If there is a tough decision on staff or budget, it is always been what is best for the kids. If she can keep that in mind, things will be just fine. We created a great climate here and I think Sharon will be able to carry that on.”