Dave Balfour has been part of Kelowna’s boutique-sized private school, Willowstone Academy, for five years—as a teacher, as the team lead of the school’s Middle Years program, and now he has stepped into the role of school principal.
We had a chance to ask him: “As the principal of Willowstone Academy, what do you love most?”
Actually, in truth—there was a time where I never would have imagined I would teach at a private school. I grew up in the public school system with all of the opportunities and constraints embedded in that reality. As a teacher, I spent significant and important years in the public school system. I have two children who graduated from Kelowna Secondary School and two younger children who have both benefited from public education.
But then I started teaching at Willowstone Academy … and everything changed for me.
So, I think that what I love most about Willowstone Academy is that we ... well, we are just such a unique learning community. It’s not just about personalizing learning, but it’s really about empowering each student to discover their path in learning, and in life.
When the bell rings at 8:40, our Before School Care has already been in full swing and the early childhood education programming is ramping up, our K-5 students are jostling their way up the stairs and into their classrooms to be greeted by the smiling faces and warm welcomes from their teachers and certified education assistants. In the meantime, our middle years students are meandering their way into Middle Years Lane, hiding their cellphones while they open lockers and stroll into their house classrooms—all rooted in an inclusive community where we cultivate strengths, embrace differences and encourage vulnerability.
It’s a school that spans toddlers to teenagers and all the spaces in between. And if you’ve been a parent in our community and seen your child move from pre-kindergarten and then graduate a decade later from Grade 9, you’ll fully understand the full spectrum of learning in both laughter and tears. Indeed, we all know each other pretty well by the end of that journey. We have hard conversations together. We celebrate every success together. We are overjoyed and broken-hearted … sometimes in the same day. Because sometimes that’s life.
And it’s a journey our community does together.
Why do I come to work every day? Well, not just because we’re a unique school. But because being a unique school means that it’s a place that honours a diverse community of faith. It’s a place where we are committed to learning that matters. It’s a place where everyone belongs. For the kids.
And, ultimately, that’s where I belong.
And I love every minute of it.
It’s going to be a great year.”
Willowstone Academy is located in the Lower Mission in Kelowna. To learn more about the school, or to book a tour, connect with its admissions advisor by clicking here.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.