Principal's Blog - the year in review

By Erin Gibbs, Principal - Crawford Bay School

Looking back over the year there were many notable achievements for CBESS students and staff, far too many to list.

Our secondary students shone at the Skills Competition in Cranbrook, impressing the judges with their competence and bringing home silver medals for carpentry. Their success is a testament to the time, organization and devotion put in by Metalwork/Woodwork teacher Matt Winger. As one organizer stated: “Matt’s students only problem is that they’ll want to be the architect of the competition’s projects… not just the builders following the blueprints….”  While Matt is a carpenter in his own right, he delights in teaching and stoking the creativity of CBESS students.

CBESS’ Grade 10-12 Grad program for 2019 – 2022 has been carefully built to ensure that all students can graduate from CBESS with any necessary prerequisites for post-secondary institutions, all taught by face to face teacher led courses. We do not depend upon distance learning for any part of our grad program. If further courses are needed to attend specific science or math-based post-secondary options, the second semester of Gr. 12 is open for students to take DL courses or to attend LVR high school across the lake in Nelson, for the course(s) required. Historically, only 1% of CBESS students have required these specific courses.

Also in the works is our dream to become known as an exciting alternative option for International student programs. We have had quite a bit of interest shown in forging partnerships, lately with Vietnam in particular.

Each year our Outdoor Ed program takes students on a variety of back country activities like cave exploration, hiking, cooking outdoors using natural vegetation (think toasted ants), canoeing, building outdoor shelters and the like. Students learn how to make a fire with a bow and spindle, prepare and smoke fish they have caught themselves in a smoker (also built themselves), and camp in their own shelters in Fall & Winter. They take climbing lessons at the Cube. Next year our schedule includes Experiential Wednesdays which will allow students to gain credits while having extended opportunities for in depth exploration of our natural world. It looks to be an exciting year! Our Outdoor Ed teachers are natural athletes and outdoor enthusiasts with years of experience and training.

CBESS’ 10th year was commemorated with the completion of our brilliant Indigenous-inspired multimedia mural, the creation of which was led by long time staffer and community member Alana Strom. The commemorative event was opened by Elder Donna Wright who led the drumming and smudging of our ceremony. Also in attendance were Board of Trustee Chair Lenora Trenaman, locally raised District Principal of Aboriginal Education Gail Higginbottom, PAC Executive members, staff and students, as well as many beloved retired teachers and community members. This 10th year is also commemorated with the planting of 10 trees along the field bordering 3A.

Other noteworthy educational experiences this year:

  • the Mentorship program which placed our secondary students with various local Trades and Artists as part of the secondary experience at CBESS
  • the installation of the observation hive from the Bee Awareness Society
  • the hatching of chicks in the classroom incubator
  • many field trips: releasing sturgeon eggs, exploring the wetlands, Shakesfest, Nelson’s art galleries – to name a few
  • the annual swimming and ski experience for students in K - 12
  • the YMCA Exchange between inner city Toronto and Crawford Bay students
  • Keenan’s research and installation of the frog pond in our garden
  • Our monthly themed assemblies which include the singing of O Canada and an acknowledgement that we respect and honour the traditional Indigenous territories upon which we live
  • Our daily walks around the school fields as a way to start the day with some fresh air and a chance to connect with each other

Looking forward, we welcome incoming VP Derek Apple who will have the good fortune to be mentored by Principal Dan Rude, former teacher and Principal of CBESS.

Staffing for teachers remains as it was in 2018-2019 with some variation in the multi-age groupings of students:

  • Daniela Fiess – K – 2
  • Johanna Strom – Grades 2 – 4
  • Shannon Lanaway/Tanya Thayer – Grades 5 – 7
  • Secondary Grades 7 - 12:
  • Matt Winger: Teacher Librarian, Athletic Director, Tech, and Humanities
  • Kristy Winger: Humanities, Elem math, Tech
  • Heather Bury: Sciences, Math, Outdoor Ed, Foods, Art

Thank you to teachers and educational assistants for your dedication, big hearts and open minds. 

School reopens on September 3rd 2019

New dismissal time for ALL students is 2:38 pm. Buses will depart from school at 2:45 pm. Please note that online bus registration is now possible:

Thank you for a brilliant year. I have loved being the Principal of Crawford Bay and am proud of our achievements together.


Erin Gibbs


Crawford Bay Elementary & Secondary School

Ph. 250-227-9218


Erin Gibbs

By Erin Gibbs, Principal - Crawford Bay School