Last week, the Manitoba Band Association held their annual general meeting. In addition to the usual committee reports and statements, they also presented a number of awards and bestowed distinctions of honour. 

Presented since 2005, the “Outstanding Administrator” award recognizes a current Principal, Vice-Principal, Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent for their outstanding contribution to music education in Manitoba. 

This year, however, the award was presented to the entire administrative team at Westwood Collegiate: Mr. Kevin Dueck, Principal, Ms. Sarah James, Vice-Principal and Ms. Leah Jones, Vice-Principal.

“I feel very humbled and grateful for the recognition,” says Westwood Collegiate Principal Kevin Dueck. Despite all of the challenges presented during the 2020/21 school year, the team at Westwood Collegiate took a “growth mindset” to overcome those barriers, explains Dueck. “We relied on technology, we relied on teamwork, creative ingenuity,” he says. “It was a community effort.” 

The importance of teamwork is a sentiment echoed by former vice principal Sarah James, who now works at another school in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division. “Well I think it’s definitely, especially last year, something that couldn’t be done by one person,” says James, pointing to all of the processes and practices when it came to public health protocols. 

For band teacher Greg Edwards, the support of the administrative team at Westwood Collegiate was paramount to providing his students the best band experience, given the situation.

“The administration team at every school is sort of the unsung heroes,” says Edwards, who likened the team at Westwood Collegiate to a “safety net” for his various ideas throughout the school year. “It’s neat to have this opportunity to recognize these three individuals for everything they do.”