CORNER BROOK — Peter Burt doesn’t go to work everyday thinking about winning awards, but his efforts as principal of Presentation Junior High School have proven to be worthy of a prestigious honour.
Burt, who has spent six years as the Corner Brook school’s principal after three years as its vice-principal, has been named a co-winner of the Victor May Award as the Western School District’s distinguished administrator of the year for 2012.
The other recipient is Terry Casey, principal of Labrador Straits Academy in L’Anse au Loup.
It is an accomplishment to win the award, but Burt said the school’s success is the result of his focus on building strong relationships between students, teachers, parents, the school council, school board officials and the community in general.
Burt believes in the concept of distributed leadership and said the staff he has at Presentation share a common vision with the collective aim of enhancing student achievement.
“I believe so much in building leadership capacity throughout the school,” he said. “By building that leadership among many people, it reaches farther than the people I’m going to be dealing with directly each day.”
Burt began his teaching career as a junior high substitute teacher in the early 1990s and has spent about 75 per cent of that time as an administrator, including 10 years as principal of Academy Canada before getting back into the public school system.
According to the leadership team at Presentation that nominated him, and which is comprised of teachers and school council members, Burt has helped the school’s students consistently perform above the district and provincial mean.
He understands the critical stage junior high school students are at in their development and maturity. He makes an effort to visit with Grade 6 students of the feeder schools where most of Presentation’s next students are coming from in order to make an early connection with them.
Burt recently introduced school staff to the Save One Student (S.O.S) program, which involves teachers trying to reach out to at-risk students and encourage them to attain their personal best.
He has also recognized the importance of new technology in the classroom and regularly asks staff about their technological needs.
“You don’t do these things alone,” said Burt. “It’s a team effort and a collaborative approach.”
He was also happy to win the award with Casey, with whom he has worked during the regular meetings of administrators from the district.
“He does fabulous work in his school as well,” Burt said of Casey. “There are a lot of other administrators throughout the district that would also be deserving of this award.”