Lori Hryniuk is excited about her first principal job after many years in education and anxious for the school year to get going at Chemainus Secondary.
“My goal was to become a secondary school principal in the district,” said Hryniuk, 48.
She took a rather circuitous route to get here, having taught and been in administration at the other Cowichan School District 79 high schools in Lake Cowichan, Duncan (Cowichan Secondary School Quamichan campus) and Frances Kelsey.
Hryniuk didn’t expect a principal position to open up this soon so “it was quite an opportunity to be offered here,” she said.
Sian Peterson left to become the new principal at Maple Bay Elementary School.
Hryniuk was born in Saskatoon and attended the University of Saskatchewan for a couple of years when she surprised her folks by announcing, out of the blue, of her intention to go west.
“I’d never been to the West Coast ever,” she pointed out.
Hryniuk saw a course calendar in Environmental Science and randomly wound up at UVic. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Environmental Science and was hired in the Saanich School District before getting into teaching.
Being on the outside looking in, “I recognized in myself I like this gig,” Hryniuk noted. “I could be a teacher.”
She had enough credits from her previous degree to work toward a Bachelor of Education, finishing in about a year and a half.
Hryniuk eventually did her Masters in Education Leadership at Malaspina College – the predecessor to Vancouver Island University.
Being a starving student with a ton of student loans after obtaining her teaching degree in 1994, Hryniuk took a position in Salmon Arm for a year to replace a person on leave.
“That was great, but I missed the coast,” she conceded.
Hryniuk went back to Victoria, making contacts here, there and everywhere for a teaching position. When nothing materialized, she opted to join the staff at a new school in Sumner, Washington, south-east of Seattle.
Being Canadian and trying to work in the United States came with a set of legal red tape to cut.
“It took them two or three months before they actually got my immigration and legal stuff done,” Hryniuk recalled.
“It wasn’t that far away, but being in the United States opened my eyes to the appreciation of the Canadian education system.”
After three years in the Grade 8 through 10 school, she returned to Victoria with no job prospects.
Hryniuk headed north to the Cowichan Valley in the hope of finding work. She wound up at Lake Cowichan Secondary for a short time and then to Quamichan Middle School before going back to the Lake for four years.
Hryniuk transferred to Kelsey as a teacher and then to Quamichan before going back to Kelsey for seven years in a vice-principal and teaching capacity.
Last year, she started at the Cowichan Secondary Quamichan campus and now here to Chemainus as principal. She had the appointment confirmed by June and attended the last grad ceremonies at the school.
“I’ve been ready and waiting for it and to come to such a great school,” Hryniuk enthused.
“At this point, I need to start and see how things are.”
It’s such a different world today, she’s keen on finding unique opportunities for young people.
Hryniuk has some definite ideas about certain issues.
“I think it’s absolutely critical for the community and the school to be very much in tune with each other,” she cited as an example.
You’ll see more from her on how that connection can be implemented as time goes on.
One of the areas where Hryniuk thrived at Kelsey was in bringing a hockey academy training to the school. She hopes to pick up where departing vice principal Justin Hawkins left off with the hockey program at Chemainus.
“I’d love to have that happening for the kids,” she indicated. “We’ll see where the niche is that needs to be filled and go from there.”
The new curriculum and other changes have Hryniuk enthralled about the possibilities for the future.
“I feel really confident in my knowledge of schools,” she said.
“I want to encourage staff and students to take risks. It’s an exciting time for education.”