Principal, secretary retire from SBES
By Sue Tiffin
May 2, 2017
Two familiar faces at Stuart Baker Elementary School have retired, after more than 60 combined years working in the education system.
Peggy Barrette, principal, and Alison Rae, secretary, finished their 29- and 33-year-long careers, respectively, on April 28.
Barrette joined Stuart Baker three years ago, after working with TLDSB as vice-principal at Monck Public School in Bracebridge, principal at Pine Glen Public School in Huntsville and principal at Glen Orchard Public School. Her first full-time teaching position was with Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board in 1988.
“Funny story,” she said. “When I moved south [to this area], I reconnected with Kim Veneziale, a teacher at JDHES, who was a student in my Grade 4-5 class back in Thunder Bay!”
Barrette is a fluent French speaker. Her work at Stuart Baker has included using a variety of assessment tools to understand where students are in reading, writing and math, and then meeting students to support their individual learning, according to Andrea Gillespie, superintendent of learning with TLDSB.
“The students at SBES are full of wonder and awe,” said Barrette. “It is amazing to rediscover things through their eyes.”
Barrette plans to spend more time with family in Hearst, and curl more in her free time, but she’ll still miss the school community when she says goodbye.
“Education is like all other professions – it moves forward, based on research,” she wrote in an email.
“We always do what we think is best at the time, until new research tells us differently. The research on how the brain learns is fascinating. That is what keeps us all young – the fact that we are continually learning on the job. It really is the most amazing place to be.”
Rae joined the HHSS team as a secretary in 1984.
“I was only three years older than some of the students,” she laughed.
At that time, Rae said word processors didn’t exist, and her work was done manually – completely different than today’s electronic system.
“My first word processing machine was basically an electric typewriter with a six-inch screen,” she said. “You would have to type, proofread, print the paragraph, and then move on to the next paragraph.”
Rae spent 28 years at the high school, as front office secretary and guidance office secretary. She said she wouldn’t trade working in the school community.
“It’s in your blood,” she said. “It just gets in you, and it’s wonderful. It’s just nice when you go out on the street or in the grocery store, and it’s amazing how many people recognize you. You touch a lot of lives in all those years.”
Chris Duchene, head of student services at HHSS, said working with Alison was one of the highlights of her career.
“The students and staff leaned on Alison for her knowledge and wisdom about life,” said Duchene.
“Everyone always felt welcome in our guidance office, and her smile and love of laughter created an atmosphere that drew many to our space.”
Rae moved from HHSS to SBES in 2012.
“I came full circle,” she said. “I started at almost the same age as the students, then as I grew older, I moved to more of a parenting role, then I moved to work with the little people in a grandparenting role.”
Rae said in her retirement she would focus even more on the grandparent role with her own family, and also spend time with her mom.
Barrette said Rae’s departure would be a loss for the Stuart Baker community.
“She has extensive knowledge of the students, their families and of the area,” said Barrette. “She was the familiar face that everyone could count on at Stuart Baker.”
Rae said working with Barrette for the past few years has been wonderful.
“It’s been a great way to end off my career, I know that,” she said.
Incoming principal Karyn Linton Marra, currently with the Durham District School Board, and incoming secretary Penny Manol with the Lindsay Board Office started at Stuart Baker on May 1.