After 11 years as Principal of Keating Elementary School, Mark Notte checked into retirement this past month.
At the end of December Notte hung up his principal hat and according to friends, staff, students and community members his contributions to the school and the community will be missed.
“Mark was always very hands on and he was very passionate about the school and the community,” explained Mary Lynn Heron, who worked with Notte as vice-principal of Keating. “Until the day he left you could just tell that he was enjoying what he did.”
“And Mark always made sure no matter what, that the kids came first,” added Teacher Librarian Sarah Windle, who worked with Notte for eight years. “He was never afraid to get involved.”
Windle and Heron noted that over his time at Keating, Notte worked on many projects including involving the school with the Peninsula Streams Society and the salmon in the classroom program. The interest, Heron added, came from Notte’s early career as a fisherman.
“He would never hesitate to take the kids on field trips to Shady Creek to learn about our local waterways and he would get local First Nations groups to speak to the kids about the importance of fish in their culture,” she said.
Notte’s love for fishing was clear during his retirement ceremony at the school in mid-December. The students and teachers decorated large paper cutouts of salmon and wrote farewell messages on them for him which he then had to catch in a large net.
“The last 11 years here have been very special,” Notte said during the ceremony. “I will miss everyone”
Prior to taking the job as principal at Keating, Notte spent time at the secondary and middle school levels in the district as well as in administrative jobs.
His career took him through North Saanich Middle School, Stelly’s Secondary and Bayside Middle School before he took on the role of principal at Keating.
“It was a great pleasure working with him for as many years as I did,” said Windle. “His support for his colleagues never wavered.”
Corporal Pat Bryant of the Central Saanich Police worked with Notte for many years through his position as school liaison officer and said he was an important figure to everyone.
“Mark is a mentor figure, not only to me, but also to many others and especially the students he taught over the years.”
Administration changes at Keating Elementary
After working alongside Mark Notte as vice-principal of Keating Elementary, Mary Lynn Heron is stepping into the role of term principal for the school. Stepping into Heron’s VP position as term vice-principal is Sarah Windle who previously worked as a teacher, teacher librarian and reading mentor for the school.
The pair taught together previously and are looking forward to working together again.
“We already know we work well together as a team so we’re really looking forward to working on new goals for the school together,” said Heron who added that the school has two main goals for the foreseeable future.
“We’re working hard on our connections within the community and extending those branches as well as focusing on reading and literacy with our students.“