Heather Cripps has been an educator in the Oromocto area since the 1991-1992 school year and her career in education has seen a range of roles. Her first teaching assignment was in Kindergarten. She later became a Vice Principal of Summerhill/Burton schools and then served as the principal of Geary Elementary School. Heather was recognized for the work she had done with staff and students promoting literacy and was appointed to the position of Literacy Supervisor for School District 17. Her work as Literacy Supervisor centered around the promotion of professional learning and that passion continued in her current role as principal of Gesner Street School.
In her current role as principal, Heather continues to lead by example. She models the importance of making personal connections to the students and can often be found visiting classes and greeting children with her smile. She knows every student’s name and can often be found asking about their siblings, their sport, or anything they may be involved in. They are her children! Heathers lens is framed with the belief that all children can learn and all children will learn. She believes strongly in a focus on the individual needs of the learner. She works tirelessly with school-based student services teams, teachers, educational assistants, families and community partners to support the needs of learners. She will go beyond the walls of the school to find the resources students need to be successful. Heather inspires her staff daily by demonstrating that a caring professional can influence the life of a child by believing in them.
Under Heather’s guidance, Gesner hosted a Kidformation Fair for new parents to inform and connect them with available community services for students and families.
Heather works with staff, students and families to ensure that Gesner is a safe environment. Emergency safety procedures are well documented and practiced. Each classroom is equipped with an “Emergency Go Kit” containing safety procedures, lists, supplies, etc. A video of school procedures is made available for all new staff to watch. All necessary training to meet the individual safety needs for students/staff is provided.
Heather works hard to ensure that the students at Gesner start their day with a nutritious breakfast. She oversaw the remodeling and licensing of our school kitchen and partnered with our Parent Support Group and local food bank to create a Healthy Minds Breakfast program. She arrives at school early each morning to begin breakfast preparation. Our children love to start their day eating breakfast with Mrs. Cripps. Heather also works closely with parent volunteers to ensure the provision of a nutritious hot lunch and milk program. Our Grade 2 students enjoy helping Mrs. Cripps ensure all classrooms have “snack” baskets that are full at all times.
Heather believes strongly in the provision of enrichment opportunities for all students. On any given day our students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of clubs such as: Drama, Choir, Art, Reading, Lego, Connection and Friendship clubs.
Heather takes the lead in the Genser skating program for students. Heather works hard to ensure the availability of extra skates, helmets and skating aids for students who need them. She personally fits students in need with skates and helmets and ensures the delivery and pick up of skating aids to the rink. During the skating program, Heather attends every skating session with every class and can be seen tying skates and listening to choruses of “Watch me, Mrs. Cripps!”.
Heather often rides the bus to help bus drivers solve issues with discipline or special situations with students. A bus list with addresses, medical needs and care providers is given to each bus driver during the first week of school. Our bus drivers have indicated that this is the only school that does so. Drivers are invited to attended training for epi-pen and diabetes information sessions held at the school. Drivers are made aware of all Policy 704 plans for bus students. Our bus drivers are also invited into the school yearly to enjoy coffee, tea and snacks as a thank you for the work they do with our students.
Heather and the staff at Gesner have been flexible, responsive and accessible to the OEC and District staff on numerous staff, report and information requests. Many times, the Centre has called upon Gesner to assist with curricular directions by taking expert staff from the school. Each and every time, the school has supported the request.
With an agreement score of 98.18% agreement, the teaching staff at Gesner feel that the school is a very safe place to learn and work. Since this is a K-2 school, there are no surveys conducted on student feedback in this area but past experience indicates students feeling safe and that bullying is low and normalized. This feeling permeates outside of the classroom with Happy Grams and nice phone calls home.
Heather’s leadership has strongly contributed to the inclusive and supportive school community of Gesner Street School.