SUMMERSIDE – “Can you give her a hug?”
No sooner were the words out the photographer’s mouth than kindergartener Logan Flude had flung his little arms around Tracy Beaulieu’s neck, ditto for Grade 6 student Colin Goodwin.
No hesitation from the boys – just honest appreciation for an A-list educator.
“She’s a really good principal, the kids all love her,” said Goodwin.
Pressed for why they’d do that, he takes a minute to think about it, squinting his eyes in reflection, before coming up with a gem of an answer.
“She’s sometimes very kid-like. In a way,” he philosophized.
“So they can all relate to her.”
Kid-like or not, whatever Beaulieu’s doing at Elm Street Elementary, it seems to be working.
She is one of 40 school principals across Canada who were recently named as being “Outstanding,” by the Learning Partnership, a national public education advocacy charity.
Being named to the list puts Beaulieu in an elite club of just under 300 public educators from the Outstanding Principal’s award program.
Her prize includes a trip to Toronto for the awards gala on Feb 25, and special training from the executive leadership program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, from Feb. 23 to 27.
She’s the only Islander named to the list this year and was nominated by her staff.
They pulled the whole thing off in secret, so she had no idea what was coming when she answered her phone about a week ago.
“I was quite shocked,” she laughed.
“To be put in a category with some of these people that I look up to is a little overwhelming to say the least. So I felt very honoured,” she said.
“I’m accepting it on behalf of our school and our community. Because I don’t believe anyone can be an affective leader unless you have an affective team around you as well. And I really want to stress that. This is an amazing school with amazing families and a great staff.”
She added that she’s looking forward to the training opportunity more so than being at the centre of attention.
“I’ve heard from many of my colleagues who have gone before that it as an exceptional learning experience as well, so I’m really looking forward to that. Any opportunity you have to go and hear different perspectives you come back a stronger leader because of it,” she said.
Beaulieu started her career at Greenfield Elementary in Summerside before transferring to Amherst Cove in Borden-Carleton. She moved back to Summerside about eight years ago, accepting the vice-principal position at Elm Street. She became the school’s principal in 2008.
During that time, she’s helped the school weather several major events, including being completely shut down due to poor air quality and the completion of a major expansion in 2011. She’s also been instrumental in introducing a number of programs and initiatives at the school, some of which of earned praise on their own merits.
Simply put, Beaulieu is an excellent example of an outstanding educator. Well worth of the praise she is receiving, said Rod Thompson, director of executive leadership with the Learning Partnership.
“She’s highly regarded and is doing fantastic things for kids. That’s really what our program is all about,” said Thompson.