In the wake of Mrs. Kolb’s retirement, WCI welcomed a new captain of the Viking ship. You might have seen her outside on her first day, greeting students and staff with a large stop sign which read “I’m the new principal- STOP- say hi!” If you did as the sign suggested, then you’ve already met Ms. Watters. She’s been on the job for almost a month now, but if you haven’t yet made her acquaintance, this will hopefully serve as a helpful introduction.
As the editors of the Fjord, we wanted to get to know Ms. Watters and listen to her thoughts about her new position at WCI. So, we headed down to her office, unsure of what to expect. We were met by a cheerful Ms. Watters, who welcomed us inside. It was certainly the most inviting principal’s office we’d ever set foot in— which might have had something to do with the fresh pot of tea sitting on her office table. We sat down, and she poured us all a cup. “You guys are my first tea party”, she told us cheerfully. Tea in hand, we got down to business.
Ms. Watters grew up in Belleville, and in Ottawa. She moved to Soutwestern Ontario when she attended the University of Guelph— her U of G cowbell still has a place on a shelf in her office. She’s been teaching for 19 years, and has experience in a variety of school settings. Her teaching qualifications? Science and history: quite a unique combination. “I like to think I’m rare”, she joked.
For Ms. Watters, the road to becoming a principal wasn’t one she always expected to go down. For this, she credits the influence of mentors throughout her career. One of these mentors was her principal while she was teaching at Eastwood, who told her that she had “more to give than biology” and involved her in projects at the school involving literacy and underserved student groups. It was this encouragement and exposure to opportunities that led her to consider leadership in education.
Experience is everything when it comes to an administrative role, and Ms. Watters’ has no shortage of it— it’s clear that her experiences working in a variety of schools has given her an empathetic and compassionate perspective. Some of her years were spent in the WRDSB, working with the Choices For Youth program— a program for students who have been fully expelled from all provincially-funded education. “It was probably one of the most beneficial learning opportunities of my entire career,” she told us.
From there, she went on to become the head of science at Eastwood C.I. On top of science, she was also involved in student success— she told us that helping students who are struggling to succeed is something she’s very passionate about. It’s one of the things that she was impressed with at WCI: our student success program, as well as our extracurriculars and the teaching staff in general. Another area that gained her praise was our ESL program: “I think [the ESL program] brings such a great opportunity for everyone in terms of growing as Canadians and learning what it means to be Canadian”. One of her goals for our school in the future hinges on the idea of helping students succeed; she says she wants to include more student voice in the school’s planning and to try to incorporate students’ needs in areas that need improvement.
As we wrapped up our meeting, we asked Ms. Watters if she had any advice for WCI students: “don’t panic”, she replied simply. We laughed a little at that— it seems like, as grade 12 students, that’s all we ever do. “I left high school very convinced I was going to be a veterinarian”, she told us. “Life is a path, it’s not a straight line … I think we’re all convinced it’s a straight line … and when it doesn’t go that way, we start to wonder if we’re okay. But don’t panic. You’re okay”. After getting to know Ms. Watters, we sincerely hope that as a student, you will have a chance to cross paths with her. And hopefully, it will be on good terms— something worthy of a tea party.