Columbia Park Elementary school has a new principal – and she’s coming from just down the road in Sicamous.
Ariel McDowell, 37, will be taking over at the school starting Mar. 28, replacing Shan Jorgenson-Adam, who left at the at the end of last year to pursue a position in Alberta.
McDowell was the vice-principal at Parkview Elementary school in Sicamous for the past two years.
“I’m really excited,” she told the Times Review in an interview last week. “My goal for the end of the year is to get a sense of who’s who and what everybody’s doing.”
McDowell is no stranger to Revelstoke – her husband Jason Stupnikoff is a forest technician with the Ministry of Forests here.
“As the kids are getting older we find ourselves driving to Revelstoke a lot any ways for the pool, skiing,” she said. “It’s always a place we wanted to get to and it really feels like home for us.”
McDowell graduated from teacher’s college in 1999 and started working right away as a high school teacher in Sicamous. She spent one year at Salmon Arm before transferring to Parkview Elementary, where she taught grades three, four and five; spent four years as the learning resource teacher and two years as vice-principal. The position in Revelstoke will be her first outside the North Okanagan-Shuswap school district.
She’s already visited Columbia Park Elementary school several times and praised the work going on there, saying she doesn’t “plan to come in and swoop in with a bunch of changes.”
“It’s got a nice, strong staff and each of them has a piece to bring to what they do so I see my role as really supporting them to keep the school running smoothly so they have the extra energy to do what excites them with kids,” she said. “At first I need to sit back and see what’s working before I consider any big changes.”
She also had complimented the students on their poise and the work they’re doing in class.
“I really noticed that as you come to school they grab the door, hold it open for you and look you straight in the eye and say ‘hello’ and ‘welcome’.”
Anne Cooper, the superintendent of the Revelstoke school district, said McDowell was an “outstanding addition” to the district staff.
“She’s an experienced teacher with a wonderful background in learning resource and a variety of grade levels of elementary and some secondary experience,” Cooper said.
McDowell and her family (she has two daughters – Maya, 8, and Elizabeth, 7) have put their house on the market in Sicamous and they are in the midst of making the move to Revelstoke.
“It’s kind of a big move because we haven’t moved around a lot,” she said.