WEYMOUTH – St. Mary’s Bay Academy principal Janece McNutt says she’s honoured to have been chosen one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals by the Learning Partnership.
She is one of 30 Canadians selected and one of three in Nova Scotia, the other two being from Dartmouth and Fall River.
Two highlights of McNutt’s work are her efforts to help teachers in the classroom with instructional strategies and her involvement in an outdoor education initiative at St. Mary’s Bay Academy.
Referring to the former, McNutt said, “I have been pretty passionate about working with classroom teachers to increase the effectiveness of their work, and that impacts student achievement.’
She has done this both at her own school and at the tri-county level.
“We actually did a lot of work a couple of years ago in the three counties, a team of us,” she said.
The other aspect of her work that was of particular interest to the Learning Partnership is an outdoor recreation project at St. Mary’s Bay Academy, the focus of which is a two-kilometre trail behind the school.
“We just completed it last year and since that time it’s really blossomed into a cross-curricular, multi-use site where many classes, many grades, go out and experience learning in nature,” McNutt said.
The school’s health-promoting team has built a rest stop in the middle of the trail.
More is planned, notably interpretive stations, McNutt said, “so it’s been really exciting ... We even added a fourth team to our school improvement plan, which is the experiential learning team, and that’s their focus.”
The Learning Partnership says the Outstanding Principals award recognizes principals “who demonstrate innovative leadership, an entrepreneurial spirit and have done something remarkable in their school community.”
McNutt, who has been principal at St. Mary’s Bay Academy for seven years – and who was principal at Yarmouth Central School for eight years before going to SMBA – says she’s looking forward to a four-day gathering in Toronto, where she and the 29 other Outstanding Principal honorees will take part in an executive leadership training course.
“It’ll be exciting to meet the other recipients and hear about what works for them and hear about their schools,” McNutt said.
The Truro native has worked in the education system 25 years or so and feels strongly about what she does.
“It’s challenging work but I love it,” she said. “I love working with kids. I love working with teachers. It has been very rewarding.”