SD5 welcomes new superintendent

Bendina Miller has been announced as the new superintendent of School District 5, replacing retiring super Bill Gook.

Bendina Miller is the new superintendent for SD5.

School District 5 announced Wednesday they have hired a new Superintendent following the retirement of Bill Gook earlier this summer.

The district will be in the experienced hands of Bendina Miller as of August 20 for a year term as the search continues for a permanent replacement.

“I’ve known Bendina for a number of years, and she’s always been considered a top tier educator in the province,” said Frank Lento, board chair.

Miller was Superintendent of School District 6 for nine years, ending her term in 2010 to focus on her personal life.

“I retired from SD6 due to my husband’s health in 2010 and it was the right decision for me at the time,” Miller said. “But I’ve been asked to help SD5 as they review their leadership needs and in their search for a new Superintendent.”

While she wasn’t actively looking for work, Miller said it was the right time to return to education.

“It just sounded like a wonderful opportunity for me,” she said.

In her time since leaving the Superintendent position, Miller has not been sitting idly by. She has been acting as a consultant on the B.C. Ministry of Education’s 21st Century Learning and Special Education. She was also tapped to submit a report on the Future of Special Education in B.C. She said that experience will translate well to her new position.

“It’s really important,” she said. “Any work that the Ministry of Education does have a huge impact on any school district in the province.”

She stresses the importance of having a great relationship between the ministry and the school district, and said her experience will help strengthen those ties.

The report that Miller delivered on the future of special education in the province will also be applied to her work with the district. She believes that inclusion for special education students is very important, and that lessons can be learned from successful programs across the country.

“The philosophy of inclusion in all schools across B.C. is one that’s important,” she said.

While working on the report, Miller got the chance to travel to other districts and view their strategies for special education.

“We can learn from what’s happening elsewhere,” she said, pointing to New Brunswick as a great model for inclusion in special education.

The rest of the board is happy to have Miller join the staff – even if it’s just for a year.

“We would have loved to offer Bendina a longer contract, but we’re thrilled to have her leadership for any length of time,” Lento said. “To say that the Board is fully behind this decision would be an understatement”.

Trustee Trina Ayling is also excited about the new appointment.

“We’re just over the moon,” she said.

The district will continue to search for a candidate, and Miller will assist in that process. Lento said the timing of Gook’s retirement left a short amount of time to bring a qualified person into the position.

“We had a narrow window to post over the summer and did not receive any applicants who met our criteria for a new Superintendent,” he said. “However, we were being assisted in the hiring process by Bendina and thankfully she has agreed to take on the position for one year to give us more time to seek out a new leader for the district.”