By Monica Lamb-Yorski
School District 27 schools superintendent Mark Thiessen has accepted a position as a principal at Mennonite Educational Institute’s (MEI) high school in Abbotsford.
Thiessen gave his notice on Aug. 8.
He and his wife, Tracey, were looking for a change for their whole family, he says.
“We will be closer to our daughter, Brooklyn, who is at Trinity Western University, and for our other three children, there will be more options closer to home.”
Thiessen and Tracey attended Bible college 30 years ago in the Fraser Valley and were well aware of MEI.
The job will provide him the chance to explore Christian education, he says.
“I’ve spent 21 years in public education as a teacher, principal and then the last four as the superintendent. The job will get me back in a school working directly with teachers and students.”
While Thiessen says he has no regrets about his time as the superintendent, he described it was during a time when the board made some tough decisions.
“We closed six schools, did a huge re-configuration, and there was a prolonged teacher strike.
“It was an interesting time to be a leader, but I feel really good that we made a lot of changes. The district is positioned well to move forward from here.”
Proud of the nature kindergarten slated to open at the Scout Island Nature Centre in September and the outdoor education program already in place at Lake City Secondary’s Columneetza campus, Thiessen says he looks forward to keeping an eye on both programs from a distance.
Born and raised in Williams Lake, Thiessen began working for the district when he was 15 years old doing maintenance in the summers until he graduated from university.
“Really School District 27 has been my main employer,” he says, adding the only exception was the 18 months his family spent in Rwanda where he was program director for Wellspring Foundation for Education.
Thiessen says Tracey is a nurse and looking forward to working for the Fraser Health Authority.
“Mark was the unanimous recommendation of the Secondary Principal Search Committee and affirmed, also unanimously, by the MEI board of directors,” says Vijay Manuel, head of schools at MEI, in a press release announcing Thiessen’s hiring.
Board of education chair Tanya Guenther says she was not in a position to comment because the board has not met yet, but notes the board will hold a special closed meeting early next week.
Monica Lamb-Yorski is a Williams Lake Tribune reporter.