Enrolment up at Gabriola Elementary

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, September 20 2016

Enrollment is up from the original projection by about 10 students, says Principal Dave Travers. “We have a total of 157 students in the building and we had to add another division. We have seven divisions in the school right now. We gained a division with the kindergarten.”

In 2015, the school had 150 students, down from 163 in 2014; and 177 in 2013.

Travers said, “What’s happened is that we have nice low numbers in our primary grades, 1 - 3, so what we’ve done is structured the school to have very good sizes in our primary and they can build and get strong foundations. Intermediate class sizes are very reasonable.”

Travers, who has come to Gabriola Elementary School (GES) from a secondary school background, admits that moving to GES has been very different. Previously, Travers spent six years as one of two Vice Principals at John Barsby Secondary School and before that he was a math and science teacher at Woodlands Secondary for 18 years.

“One thing I love is that I have beautiful halls. Kids are in classes. Kids are not in halls in elementary. I’m learning to work with younger students. You have to approach them differently and manage them differently. It’s a good, positive learning curve.”

Travers says one thing that’s made the transition easy for him is the staff, who he says are very supportive of him. He says the school secretary, Karen Dendes, who is also new this year, is solid and committed. “She’s a rock star. It’s been the best scenario I could have hoped for.”

Travers talks about GES continuing to become a place-based school and explains what he means. “We work with our community and environment and teach different subject areas in coordination. For example, GIRO has been coming into school to educate around general recycling awareness. It provides an opportunity for students to see how their footprint affects their community. We also have the Hot Lunch Program and Sacha Petersen is one of many people who go over and above.”

Travers, in addition to his duties as principal, is also teaching the Grade 6/7 class half time. “I’m working with Catherine Gilroy. She’s a great teaching partner. I’ll be teaching math, PE, French and computers.”

GES is also partnering with Simon Fraser University (SFU). “We are working on staying in contact with SFU to see how they will be able to guide us in moving in our vision to become a place-based, eco-education school. They’ve been over twice. They can come in and do professional development with the staff and guide us in connecting with our community members.”

Travers says GES will be working with the Quam Qwum Stuwixwulh First Nations School. He plans to have intramural sports programs during lunch hour and will again partner with Pacific Sport to provide sports and arts programs that will be starting up again soon. 

“You know what,” Travers says, “there’s a lot of positive energy in the school. The kids are settled into their classes and we’re starting to develop routines and yes, it’s pretty positive around here.”