General News » News

Pickering College’s Head of School honoured with Lifetime Achievement award

September 19, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Teaching wasn’t necessarily the career Peter Sturrup envisioned when he began his post-secondary journey, but more than three-decades later, he firmly believes there is no greater vocation in the world.

Mr. Sturrup has served as Head of School for Pickering College, a Newmarket-based independent school, for more than 25 years and last month was honoured by CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools) with their Lifetime Achievement Award.

CAIS’ Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a Head of School who has made significant contributions to the broader community of independent schools across the country.

“I was surprised and shocked when they announced it,” Mr. Sturrup tells The Auroran. “Then I was thinking, I hope I live up to the expectations they have! I really feel like all I have done is get up and come to work every day and tried to do my best with the school and be involved in CAIS. I really wasn’t expecting that sort of recognition.”

Mr. Sturrup began his teaching career instructing a second-year geography course at Wilfrid Laurier University. He arrived at Pickering College in 1986 and was appointed Head of School in 1995.

“It took me a couple of years, but I came to realize there is no greater vocation in the world than teaching,” he says. “You really get to affect people’s lives and you have the opportunity to bring out the best in young people, to inspire them and do great things. To see them grow up and fulfil their destiny is incredibly rewarding, especially at a school like Pickering when they come in as three or four-year-olds and graduate as young adults and [they] stay in touch. We really get to see their whole life and career unfolding and there is nothing better in the world than that.”

Upon his appointment, Mr. Sturrup says he saw his mandate as one to bolster pride in the school for students, staff, and parents alike. In some instances, he also saw his job as telling the school’s story.

It’s a story that has been told for 178 years, including 111 in York Region.

“I want to tell the story of what we do, how we do it and how we change lives – and how that can affect our community and its future,” he says. “Telling our story in a way that gives them hope, gives them a sense of purpose and a sense of inspiration – I didn’t think at the time that is what I needed to do, but in hindsight I recognize that is what I had to do, what any Head of School needs to do, and what one needs to always continue to do.”

Due to COVID-19, the present chapter of this story is challenging, but Mr. Sturrup takes pride in the fact Pickering College had learning models in place which allowed them to quickly adapt to the “new normal” and capacity was already in place to make it happen.

“We are adjusting as everyone else is to these new circumstances and don’t know what will be around the corner, but we’re trying to remain open-minded and resilient to changes,” he says. “If they don’t know the school, I would encourage people to find out about us because I think we are doing wonderful things with young people.

“We hope we are giving the students the skills to be able to change the world but also the desire to change the world, that they can see a problem – whether it is a homeless person they walk by or global warming –  and they say, ‘That’s not right, but I know what to do and I am going to do it.’ That is what we’re teaching and instilling in our students. I would love it if more people knew that because I think it is really exciting and it is something that can benefit our community. If more people know about it, we have the opportunity to work with organizations and the community and put our resources to great use.

“I believe the greatest things in the world can happen through personal interactions and kindness and compassion and encouragement. That is the way you can move people to do great things with themselves and with others. If people think that is what I am doing, that makes me happy.”

By Brock Weir



Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out Loud Screen Reader Support