From student to principal of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate.
That’s the path that Betsy Petker has taken. But it didn’t happen overnight. After some 32 years as a teacher and administrator with the Waterloo Region District School Board, the former Rockway Collegiate student was hired by the school to be its new principal, beginning Feb. 15, 2010.
“I’m very excited about it,” she said in an interview.
Petker also served on the alumni board at Rockway and continues to attend Rockway Mennonite Church.
“It’s a real coming home for me because I was a Rockway student.”
Petker brings to the school 32 years of diverse teaching and administrative experience. Following 12 years as a principal in the WRDSB, including a stint at Floradale Public School, Petker was most recently employed in Wilfrid Laurier University’s faculty of education as program coordinator of LEAP (the Laurier Enriched Academic Program). She also brings her experience as a vice-president, business manager, and advisory council member for a number of local arts organizations.
And it all started as a teacher decades ago.
“I got into teaching primarily because it was a great way to continue learning myself,” said Petker, who studied music (voice) and English literature at university.
“I always wanted to be a teacher; it was just one of those things that was a given. I loved being a teacher, and I have been very fortunate: I taught many things at many different grade levels and had many different experiences as a teacher, so it was terrific.”
Petker noted she looks forward to returning to the school where her education began.
“There are many, many components of the job as school principal that I have loved; certainly the contact again with the students will be wonderful. I’m looking forward to being in a faith-based school. In the public system, obviously, there are many people of different faiths who are teaching, but to work in this kind of a context …
“I’m looking forward to working with the whole focus on service and peacemaking, discipleship, global awareness and global responsibility – those are all really important things that Rockway has,” she said.
“And then there are surprises that I won’t know about until I get there.”