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Principal earns top grades
Courteney Lizotte of Range Lake North wins recognition on national stage

Evan Kiyoshi French
Northern News Services
Friday, January 29, 2016

Range Lake North School's principal has been named one of 40 'outstanding principals' in Canada by a national charity promoting public education.

Courteney Lizotte joins nearly 400 other members named to the National Academy of Canada's Outstanding Principals since the Learning Partnership Charity began building its list 12 years ago.

She said she is excited her name will be among many other NWT principals who have made the list in the past.

"They called me a week ago," she said. "I was very honoured."

Yellowknife Education District No. 1 superintendent Metro Huculak said he was confident Lizotte would win.

"We had a good nomination package that went in for her," he said. "I was quite confident she would be (the) one who received it. She's done an excellent job."

Lizotte has pulled staff together to focus on anti-bullying strategies, said Huculak.

"To my knowledge this year, there have been no instances of bullying (at the school)," he said. "All the staff have pulled together and they've put strategies in place."

Lizotte said she's been teaching with the public district for the past 14 years and began her time at Range Lake North School five years ago.

Huculak said Lizotte has pushed healthy lifestyles for the school's students.

"They're doing all kinds of activities," he said. "And they enhanced the fine arts program too."

Other NWT principals named to the list in previous years include Paul Bennett of J.H. Sissons school in 2011, Angela James of Ndilo's Kalemi Dene School in 2009, Simone Gessler of Weledeh Catholic School in 2014 and Lea Lamoureux of Dettah's Kaw Tay Whee School in 2013.

Rod Thompson, director of executive leadership programs for the Learning Partnership, said judges were impressed by physical fitness programming, inclusion of Dene culture in classrooms and were especially pleased with a note from Huculak talking about strides Lizotte has taken to curb bullying at the school.

"She's made good progress," said Thompson.

Thomspon said candidates are nominated by colleagues, school staff and community members. The winners were chosen by a national selection committee made up of leaders from the education, community and private sectors. The winners are selected on the basis of leadership, student achievement, innovation, instructional leadership, professional learning teams and more, he said.

"What have (they) done in innovation? What's their instructional leadership? Do they have good sound partnerships with families and communities around their schools? And have they undertaken their own personal growth to move ahead in the profession?" he said, listing criteria for the honour.

Lizotte said she heads to Toronto Feb. 23 to receive her award at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, then she starts a five-day executive leadership training program at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, courtesy of the learning partnership.

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