After a decade at North Saanich middle school, Keray Wing expects to leap into a busy retirement.
Fishing, hiking, photography, kayaking, reading, travel, a gospel choir, music, volunteering and a granddaughter are all hanging in the edges, awaiting his time.
“I don’t think there’s a shortage of things for me to do,” he said with a smile. “But I’ll miss the kids. I’ll miss the parents. I’ll miss being this closely connected to the community.”
Wing started 35 years ago as a phys-ed, music and social studies teacher in Terrace. He stayed up north for 14 years and spent eight years as the principal of a First Nations-run school north of Hazleton. He was recruited to start up the LÁU,WELNEW school on West Saanich road and spent two years there.
“Then I came back into the provincial system,” he explained. Wing worked a couple of years as the Saanich alternate program teacher, four as vice-principal at Royal Oak middle school, then Bayside middle for a year. He returned to Royal Oak for four years as principal before heading for North Saanich middle school in 2002.
“I love it when kids are learning. I love it when staff and parents are learning,” Wing said. “It’s magic.”
He’s ready to retire after 10 years, the last few at his request, at North Saanich middle school.
“I wanted to see this project right through to the end, or at least until we got into the new building,” he said.
The biggest changes he’s seen are outside the school itself, influencing the education system.
“The changes are in society itself, the technology, the communication, the access to information, diversity in kids’ learning needs, but also the diversity of all ethnic groups,” he said. “North Saanich middle school is a little microcosm of the whole world.”
For the past decade he’s built on what was already there.
“North Saanich has always had a strong commitment as a learning community for any kid who came here. It was always one of those staffs that put kids first,” he said.
They uphold traditions that build community, from Christmas concerts for seniors at the Shoal Centre to students going back to elementary schools to help out on sports days.
“It’s really important this school be seen in the community as part of the community and a resource for the community,” Wing said. “Part of what we do is give kids an opportunity to become those who give back. Teaching kids to do volunteering is a gift. It’s a little bit about paying it forward and paying it back.”
Wing held out on retirement a few years to make sure the kids got settled into the new school.
“We’re a lot about providing opportunities for kids to explore learning. The obvious are the academics,” he said. Then there’s drama, woodworking and other electives. Now in a school built to achieve LEED gold standards, they can teach hands-on about sustainable energy and good environmental practices.
“That type of learning and that type of experience provides even more opportunity for kids to become aware,” Wing said.
The new school will be the site of a stellar sendoff for Wing and parents from past or present are welcome for a gym party on June 15, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.