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From one principal's chair to another

Chris Vining, current principal of Art Smith Aviation Academy, will be taking over for Kathy McKale at Cold Lake Elementary School.

COLD LAKE - When one principal leaves another steps in, and that's just the case for Cold Lake Elementary School. 

After Kathy McKale announced her retirement earlier this year, Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) knew they had big shoes to fill and who better for the job than current Art Smith Aviation Academy principal, Chris Vining. 

“With Kathy McKale retiring, they wanted to move an experienced person into that role. With the time that I have been with the division, they looked at me as being a good fit for Cold Lake Elementary and to move into that role,” detailed Vining. 

Over his 23-year career with NLPS, Vining has worked as a teacher at the former Grand Centre High School, and principal of Cold Lake Outreach and Art Smith Aviation Academy. 

“Chris is an experienced administrator who has demonstrated a commitment to building strong relationships within the school community, and creating a school culture focused on engaging students in their learning,” said NLPS Superintendent Rick Cusson said in a media release. 

For Vining, the shift to Cold Lake Elementary School will mean more than just a change in chairs. The school itself is larger than Art Smith, and while he has worked in the elementary school-level for the past five years of his career, it wasn't as focused on the primary age as Cold Lake Elementary. 

But Vining is up for the task. 

“Change is always an interesting time. I have worked in several environments in my 28 or so years in education. I have moved, it seems to be, every five years or so... This just fits that pattern, and just like every other move, it’s exciting to get to meet new people, new families, and every school community has its own unique challenges and rewards. I look forward to getting at it,” Vining told Lakeland This Week. 

Prior to making any changes at the school, Vining just wants to settle in. 

“I think it’s going to take a little bit to get my feet underneath me, and I will certainly depend on the staff that are there to help me out a little bit... It’s a pretty successful and well-functioning school,” said Vining. “Change is a relative term, I know I will have ways of doing things that are different than the way Kathy would have done them, which won’t feel like change to me but it might feel like change to the staff and to the kids, but hopefully all of that will be for the good."

Vining is just happy his work with kids will carry-on in his new position. 

He said, "It’s a very rewarding experience, working with kids and families and seeing the change, watching them grow up."

One of the exciting things about his new role, Vining said, is he will be working with a lot of the children who's parents he used to teach early-on in his career. 

“My first job here with Northern Lights was at the old Grand Centre High School and I know from people that have reached out to me that I am going to be teaching a whole lot of kids of kids that I have already taught at one time,” he expressed. “I look forward to that and seeing them now as parents and working with their kids.