Parting is such sweet sorrow for principal Jennifer Calverley, the Crofton Elementary School community and teaching staff; in fact, it’s bittersweet.
Many tears were shed by Calverley, students and staff in the days leading up to her final day at the school. After four school terms as principal at Crofton Elementary starting in 2016, Calverley will be taking over as principal of Khowhemun Elementary School.
“I’m excited for the new opportunity but sad to leave the connections and the people that are here in Crofton,” she said. “I’m looking forward to building the same connections and relationships I had here.”
The affection for Calverley couldn’t quite be expressed in the same way due to COVID-19, leading to a lot of “air hugs” along with the real tears.
“I wish I could say goodbye to everyone in person,” she conceded. “I don’t feel we’re getting the closure. I wish we could have, but I know that’s uncontrollable and the sentiment is still there.”
Calverley said she has received “lots of lovely messages actually which makes it harder to go.”
She officially remains the principal until July 31 before getting ready for her new post in August.
“I will be in and out the next couple of weeks, trying to bring closure to the school year,” Calverley noted.
She’s part of some Cowichan Valley School District reassignments announced in May and Tim Ylagan, district principal of support services, will be the new principal at Crofton Elementary.
“It’s been four years of learning,” said Calverley of her first principal’s job.
What stands out to her are “how important relationships are, how wonderful the community is, the students are lovely to work with.”
Calverley formed a strong bond with the children during her tenure.
“I think that’s why it’s hardest to leave,” she admitted. “I know every student, I have a connection with them. I know all the families and the community.”
And the only elementary school in Crofton is such a hub in the community, “you meet people that are walking every day,” Calverley added. “You meet a lot of people and it really is a lovely community.”
School is obviously all about learning, but she thrives on all aspects of the process.
“I will always remember the fun I had working with the kids,” Calverley said.
She brought a different element to the school’s read-a-thon by agreeing to do certain things as determined by the students if they reached their goals. Calverley was duct-taped to the wall one year, wore flippers to school the next and donned a different Disney costume for a full week during her last year.
That brought an instant gratification for the students and a unique connection with their principal.
“You have to enjoy what you’re doing and have some fun,” Calverley emphasized. “There’s got to be some joy in the hard work. You can’t take yourself too seriously.
“We did a lot of work on building relationships because relationships are the key to learning.”
The transition to school reopening June 1 amid COVID-19 brought a whole different atmosphere to the school experience.
“A lot of hard work, worth it for the opportunity to work with kids again in June – a tremendous amount of planning and organization, but laid a foundation for doing our work differently.
“Our learning environment is ready for kids in September. We are readily accessible and adaptable so we’re ready for whatever September will bring.”
Calverley praised the Crofton Elementary Parent Advisory Council for its support. “They want to see our kids thrive and have meaningful experiences,” she acknowledged.
Changing schools is the nature of the job, but it doesn’t make it any easier for Calverley to leave Crofton Elementary.
“I know it wasn’t forever, it’s a chapter,” she reasoned. “It’s been a wonderful chapter.”