Following the announcement of his resignation on Monday, colleagues of School District 60 superintendent Larry Espe are proudly touting his legacy, which includes a new sport academy program for high school students.
Espe announced his decision at Monday's school board meeting, saying he did not yet know if he would retire or simply resign from the post. Many school board trustees said they were surprised and sad to see Espe go.
"It will be a loss for our district," said Michele Wiebe, local president, B.C. Teachers Federation. "To replace Larry, we have to have someone that has a passion for education, student learning and advancement and how we can prepare these kids for the world. He wants our kids to be better for our world. That's the biggest impact for me. I don't know how they'll replace him but I know we have an excellent school board and will do an amazing job finding somebody."
Wiebe added that Espe was instrumental in the creation of the Canadian Sport School, a program for Grade 10, 11 or 12 athletes who have been recognized by their Provincial Sport Organization (PSO). A partnership between the district and PacificSport Northern B.C., the program entails students regularly attending their morning classes, then being transported to Sport School sessions at the Pomeroy Sport Centre Mondays through Thursdays.
Enrolled students will learn physical literacy and fitness, sport science, have access to customized sport training and facilities as well as athletes from various sports, and a supportive peer group.
Espe said he can not take credit for the sport academy.
"PacificSport North actually approached us. It just made so much sense for us," he said. "I'm sure there will be growing pains like anything else that's new but we're pretty excited for the invite."
Wiebe said Sport School is characteristic of Espe's approach to learning. She said he always tried as superintendent to give students a variety of opportunities to succeed.
"Larry is a visionary," Wiebe said. "He's always thinking outside the box about ways to improve and have more opportunities for students."
Jaret Thompson, chair of the School Board, agreed.
"I think it should be noted that he leaves the district heading in a really good direction in so many ways," Thompson said.
"He really works with people to mentor and coach and get them to where they want to go. He's created a nice culture in the district of everybody working together, teamwork, where it's not just the executive group versus the other group. He's really brought every group in the district together."
Thompson said Espe made the best of a school district located in comparative isolation. "We have a hard time recruiting and retaining employees to the area versus rest of B.C. because of our location and he's done a great job at building the district's reputation and getting people attracted to the district."