He may just have been named as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals, but Champlain Park’s René Bibaud admits he was initially quite reluctant to step into the principal’s office.
“I spent 25 years in the classroom and loved the dynamics and the daily interaction with students. I was afraid to lose that but, in fact, I’ve done my best teaching in the last 12 years. It’s just that the configuration of my classroom has changed – it’s now the whole school.”
Bibaud is one of 40 principals from across Canada being lauded as the finest in their field by the Learning Partnership, a national charity that promotes publicly funded education and fosters leadership among educators at all levels. Nominated by peers and parents, Bibaud was selected based on his success at forming meaningful partnerships with parents and community as well as his ability to foster change and innovation that resulted in improved student engagement and achievement.
“I have to say I was both humbled and embarrassed when I learned I was being nominated for this award,” admitted Bibaud. “I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by so many strong partners who have worked with me to come up with the necessary vision for school improvement and then worked collectively to achieve it. I share this honour with all the students, teachers and parents I have been privileged to work with as a principal.”
Known for his warmth, humour, compassion and boundless energy, Bibaud was principal of Nepean High School for five years and is now in his second year as principal at the Adult High School on Rochester Avenue. In this new role, he’s at the helm of a unique school that serves the needs of a very diverse student population, including many immigrants, and where his skills as a coach, mentor, role model and inspiring instructional leader are tremendously valued.
Bibaud’s supporters praise his constant efforts to go above and beyond his responsibilities as an educator. “What stands out the most for me is René’s innate ability to connect with people and take a genuine interest in their story, with respect and empathy, wrote Barbara Mitchell, whose two sons attended Nepean. “He has both an open mind and an open heart that make him such a wonderful individual and a great leader not only in his schools but also in the community. Rene has a sincere belief that every student has the ability and the right to be supported to achieve school success.”
Gilles Mayost, also a Nepean parent, similarly praised René’s success at engaging staff, coupled with his commitment to students. “No one was left behind or forgotten. Students will remember him because they know he genuinely cared about them.”
Katherine Stauble, mother of two Nepean graduates and an arts advocate at the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, also holds Bibaud in high regard. “René Bibaud is the finest principal I have known and the best role model I can imagine for teenagers. I once asked him if he missed the classroom and the opportunity it provided to influence kids. He responded that, in fact, it was as a principal that he had more opportunities to teach – to impart values and build character.”
Bibaud remains as passionate as ever about his profession, despite the duration and many successes of his career.
“One of the things that I find particularly exciting is how technology is changing our instructional practice and how the pathways available to students are expanding, making it increasingly possible for me to work with teachers, parents and many partners in the school board and the community to come up with a unique recipe for each student to succeed. As I am in the twilight of my educational career, working here at the Adult High School is providing me with a more fulsome perspective and I truly feel like things have come full circle.”