It’s hard for me to believe that this letter will be the last official piece of correspondence I write to our community as Head of School. It has been an extraordinary professional and personal journey, and I am thankful for having been given the opportunity to lead this exceptional school. Island Pacific School has always held a special place in the hearts of Bowen Island residents, but I trust you know that it also holds a special place in mine.

When I accepted this position in June of 2007 I expected that it would be a difficult undertaking. I understood that replacing the school’s Founder was an unusual way for new Head of School to cut his teeth, but I was excited at the prospect of beginning a new professional adventure. As importantly, I felt I was ready for the challenge.

I knew that any change I implemented here would be met with some resistance. (Change always is.) So I never felt discouraged or hard-done-by when I was challenged by members of our community to explain, or justify, my reasoning for initiating change at any level. I welcomed those kinds of conversations because they helped me better understand the impact change had—not only on IPS culture—but on Bowen Island culture too. Thank you for that.

Thank you as well for involving yourselves in the life of the school. It’s impossible for me to acknowledge by name the scores of volunteers who contribute their time, energy, and talents in support of students and teachers alike, but suffice it to say that were it not for the collective efforts of volunteer mums and dads at every grade IPS would not be able to offer the kinds of opportunities it provides students now. Tonight’s Coffee House is but one concrete example.

I need to thank the board members I’ve had the privilege of working with, and learning from, these past 3 ½ years. This community is extremely fortunate to have at the helm a diverse, smart, and extremely committed group of trustees whose job it is to see that IPS continues to exist now, and in the future. One of the changes made during my tenure at IPS was a major overhaul to the governance model of the school whereby board members are elected from constituent members of the Society. In practical terms this means that every IPS parent has an opportunity to be directly involved in the school’s strategic decision making at the board level. This governance model is the national best practice standard and it ensures that parents can be directly involved in setting and altering the course of the School.

The teachers working here are exceptional people and educators. They care about your children and they care about the school. It has been my great pleasure to work so closely with them. Thank you.

Finally, it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know, and teach, your children. My experiences with individuals and groups of students these past 3 ½ years have helped me understand that how students are made to feel in the classroom is as important as what gets taught in the classroom.

I leave this school and this Bowen Island community with the knowledge that IPS will always serve an important role in the landscape of Canadian independent schools.

Here’s wishing you a relaxing winter break filled with laughter, love, and the good company of family and friends.


Michael Simmonds,

Head of School