Jeff Seabrook believes in the potential of middle school students.
“I know we focus a lot on high schools and making sure we get (them) out into the workforce. But the kids here are so impressionable and they have so much to give, I’ve always said, a lot more than people think they can do.”
A veteran 25-year educator with the Yellowknife School District No. 1 and principal of Ecole William McDonald Middle School for four years, Seabrook has been recognized as one of Canada’s outstanding principals by The Learning Partnership.
Seabrook stresses he has a great team working with him to build a unique exploratory program that has students trying out fine arts, culinary arts and technology. The program is also focused on building empathy and compassion.
“One of the biggest things in a middle school setting is that kids bodies, brains, they’re changing so much. And while academics are a very important part, it’s the social-emotional learning that kids go through.”
The school also offers a five-day winter on the land camp, as well as an alternative fitness room for students who don’t thrive in a traditional gym class. A flex block lets students explore anything from photography to the physics of skiing.
Director of Executive Leadership Programs with The Learning Partnership Rod Thompson says Seabrook stands out for his role in bringing in this programming as well as organizing a school which offers an English, French immersion and French intensive program.
Thompson says Seabrook has also succeeded at one of the most crucial jobs of a principal – creating good relationships with students, staff, parents and Indigenous community.
“He’s created a pretty caring and supportive environment at that school where there’s a high degree of trust in the school and amongst the school community. You can put all the bells and whistles in you want, but if you don’t have trust and caring going on, then it’s kind of tough to make it happen.”
Seabrook joins 29 other principals, including Katherine LeBlanc from Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik in Rankin Inlet, in receiving the honour this year.