There is no cellphone service at Raft River Elementary School, but that might not be an entirely bad thing, according to Shaun McKenna, the new principal.
“There is a case to be made for kids using cellphones in class, if you can keep them from texting when they shouldn’t,” he said. “On the other hand, at the school I was at before, in Kitimat, I spent a couple of hours a day dealing with cellphone issues. Some kids would rather be suspended for a few days than give up their phone.”
“Here there is no issue with kids bringing cellphones to class, because they don’t work … but it is annoying to me personally.”
McKenna spent most of his teaching career in Alberta, where he spent 10 years as vice-principal of a kindergarten to Grade 12 school with 700 students. It was in a farming community about the same size as Clearwater.
He then went to India for three years and taught animation and technology at a college.
The objective in India was to teach students how to be creative. The tradition there is for students to treat teachers as if they know everything. It took time to convince some students that they should think more for themselves, McKenna said.
After India he went to Kitimat, where he was vice-principal of a Grade 7 – 12 school.
Moving to Clearwater will allow them to be closer to family members in the Okanagan and southern Alberta.
The new principal said he likes Clearwater and hopes to spend many years here.
“I know the school district likes to move people every five years, but I would like to stay longer,” he said.
He and his wife have two children, a son and a daughter, both grown up and living on their own.
His wife is a yoga instructor and has already started a class in their home.
McKenna said he is impressed with the Raft River PAC as well as the staff at the school.
Enrolment in September was about 300, up slightly from June. This is in line with a school district-wide trend, with enrolments at elementary schools slowly rebounding while those at secondary schools still declining.