Throughout his 32 years working with the Fort McMurray Catholic School District Kim Jenkins has held many titles: teacher, principal, deputy superintendent and superintendent. Although he has moved on to a new position as chief operating officer of the Keyano College Land Trust Corporation, his work with the school district continues to have a lasting effect. On September 19th Jenkins was announced as the 2013 Canadian Superintendent of the Year.
“It’s gratifying because it’s a summation of my work over the last three or four years,” Jenkins said of the recognition.
“I undertook to improve the school district, it wasn’t haphazard, we made a plan and we delivered that plan. To have the plan come to fruition and result in this award is very gratifying. We took the risks, pushed hard on things, got things done and to be recognized nationally for that it’s really special. Sometimes it’s easier to do nothing, so when you are taking risks and going out on a ledge, some people wont’ do it, we did it in the district and did some really neat things and to have your colleagues recognize that feels pretty good.”
Barry Litun, executive director of the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) explained that nominations for the award were first collected provincially. “From my perspective the reason he would have been nominated from his community and his peers is because he was seen as an outstanding leader.” From there a handful of finalist were chosen to move on, with Jenkins winning nationally as well.
Litun said he believed that the wide range and diversity of programs in which Jenkins was involved in made him deserving of national recognition. He noted that in addition to the nominees there many outstanding superintendents across the country, however, Jenkins was identified to be somebody that not only has skill and expertise, but in a very wide range of responsibilities and areas.
Highlights of Jenkins tenure with the Fort McMurray Catholic School District include implementing a modified calendar within the District to increases job embedded professional development for staff, leading the fundraising efforts for the Science and Technology Centre at Father Mercredi High School which allows the district to give students real world experience and career path knowledge, being the lead of a team which developed and implemented the Early Entry Program (EEP), and creating a leadership development program for future principals.
Jenkins praised the work of his co-workers and senior administrative team at the Catholic Board, stressing that his career highlights would not have been possible without their support. ““I got the award, I had the courage to go and push things, but I had a really good team who carried it out with me. I was a bit of an idea person, and I was a bit demanding, however, when you go to my senior admin team and my principals had to carry it out at the school level. I don’t want to downplay their role because if I didn’t have people supporting me, getting it down to the grassroots none of this would have been possible.”
“The science and technology center, making the dream go from a thought in my head to an actuality, there’s a lot of good people that helped me out on that, so I wouldn’t want to neglect recognizing them,” he continued.
Litun, who served on provincial executive for CASS with Jenkins, was not surprised in his colleague’s achievement. “One of the things I have always respected is that he was thoughtful, reflective, often able to take the situation that was at hand and offer good solutions or resolutions or propose ways to go about addressing concerns. He is unflappable, he doesn’t get upset, he simply looks for solutions. I really appreciated that he brought a breadth of knowledge in a wide range of areas.”
“I think that is exemplified in the fact that he has now moved on and is working with Keyano College in what you mind consider a non traditional education role,” he continued.
Though his current position is not directly tied to education, his role is one of community strengthening and building, a connection Jenkins believes ties together all his past positions.
“Right now at Keyano what I am doing is something quite different but still very similar. I’m still doing the same thing. I built the school system, now I’m helping build Keyano, I’m not actually going to be doing the programming but I’m going to provide the revenue for them to do that,” Jenkins explained.
“It’s changed, but it’s still community building. I guess I’ve always been a community builder, so when I left the school system and went to Keyano, different job but still the end result is the same. I have been chairman of the board of the Wood Buffalo Housing and Development Corporation for the last four years as well and it’ s just another facet of community building, I guess that’s what I’m all about.”