His work wasn’t always exciting, but Kelvin Stretch felt like he was making a difference.
As secretary-treasurer of School District 73 – the 12th biggest district in B.C. – for the past 24 years, Stretch has been involved in all aspects of improving students’ lives.
“How many jobs can you do that you actually can make a difference in so many lives?” he said. “That’s probably the number one thing, improving the life changes of our kids.”
But at 65, Stretch said it’s time to do something else, and will retire later this year. He will miss the good people and the challenges, he said. While he admits it’s been tedious work, it was also important because school officials want to ensure the next generation has access to the best opportunities possible.
“Education is one of those equalizers,” Stretch said.
Over the years, the school district has seen continuous improvement, Stretch said. For about 15 years, SD73 saw declining enrolment, but over the last five, it has “done nothing but improve” in almost every category. The district’s graduation rates of First Nations individuals, for example, have significantly improved and are now well ahead of the provincial average.
SD73 Supt. Terry Sullivan commended Stretch for his years of service.
“The positive outlook and perspective that he brings to work every day are going to be missed by all of us who work closely with him,” Sullivan said in a SD73 press release.
Stretch, who reported to the superintendent and the school board, added they worked closely with educators because “you can’t do anything without money.” By working with educators and understanding their challenges to make learning easier and more effective was also key to many of the successes seen throughout the district.
Stretch wanted to retire in 2020 but travel restrictions due to COVID-19 made him rethink his plans for another year. Even though he and his wife will have to postpone any overseas trips right now, he felt it was time to go.
“I turned 65 last June, so this June I’ll be 66,” he said. “We decided that we’re getting close to the past-due date and time to do something else.”