After nearly 40 years of service with the Yellowknife Catholic School Board, Superintendent Claudia Parker is retiring. The longtime YCS educator announced her resignation at Wednesday’s trustee meeting.
Miles Welsh, board chair, accepted Parker’s resignation after reading her official letter to the board.
“’The time has come for me towards another facet of my life- retirement,’” Welsh read. “’For this reason I am officially advising you that I will not be asking for a renewal of my contract. My last official date will be July 31, 2019.’”
Parker has been in the position for a decade after being hired in 2009. Her day-to-day job involves overseeing all aspects of education in the district- from staffing to budgeting to educational programming. Parker said she had let the board know verbally last spring that she would put in one final year, but said she is nervous about retirement now that the formal letter has been submitted.
“I am nervous about it because I have been involved in education for so many years,” she said. “It has been such a big part of my life I sometimes wonder who I will be without education as part of my life. It has always been a passion of mine and I had decided to become a teacher in Grade 1. I never changed my mind.”
She said it was the right time, however, as superintendents typically get three-year contracts reviewed. Parker was coming to the end of her most recent contract and based on its stipulations, she was expected to let the board know by the end of November if she intended to resign. With a new school board election coming Oct. 15, she opted to let the outgoing trustees know that she was looking to move on rather than wait for a new slate of elected members.
Reactions were immediate from trustees, including John Dalton, who was a supporter of Parker for many years. In 2012, Dalton was among a number of private citizens who came to her defence in a number of public meetings when the board of the time planned to terminate her and former assistant principal Johnnie Bowden. The controversial decision was reversed when the public protested.
“It wouldn’t have been the same at this table without you,” said Dalton. “Your leadership, your compassion, your understanding, and your support not only to this board but to this district. You have become in many respects the face of YCS for so many years. I am going to miss you. Although I am leaving the board, I will miss the idea of the security, continuity and dedication you brought to this district. That, I think, will be sorely missed.”
Amy Kennedy is one of the two current trustees that Parker taught, along with Tina Schauerte. Kennedy also thanked Parker for her many years of service.
“I have known you my entire my life and it has been a pleasure working with you as a superintendent,” she said. “I think the world of you and you’ve done a wonderful job. Our district will be less without you”
Parker, who is originally from Boisetown, NB, came North to work at the former St. Patrick’s Elementary School in Yellowknife in 1981. She was there for 10 years before joining Ecole St. Joseph’s School as assistant principal in 1991. For four and half years she then worked in Fort Smith as principal at P.W. Kaeser High School before moving back to Yellowknife again to become principal at St. Joseph’s.
In 2000 she became assistant superintendent of learning before taking the head job in 2009.
After the Oct. 15 election, the new board will be responsible for putting together a hiring team and will decide on how to proceed with replacing Parker.