ST. PAUL - St. Paul Education has hired two new assistant superintendents - and both are familiar faces within the school division.
Ashmont School principal Keith Gamblin and St. Paul Elementary principal Karol Cabaj-Martin will finish off the school year in their respective roles and take on new roles as of Sept. 1, 2021, in central office.
"Given the retirement of the current assistant superintendent (Patricia Gervais) in late 2021, and the anticipated retirement of the current superintendent (Glen Brodziak), hiring two assistant superintendents will properly support the transition and ensure quality programming continues for our students," reads the announcement from St. Paul Education.
"These two individuals were selected from a field of outstanding candidates because of their demonstrated leadership capabilities and commitment to excellence in serving our students and families."
Cabaj-Martin started her teaching career with Lakeland Catholic School District in 1997. A few years later, she would take on her first position with St. Paul Education at Mallaig School. She gathered experience working with a range of students, from Grade 1 to Grade 10. She would stay in Mallaig until 2011.
In 2012, Cabaj-Martin accepted the role as principal at St. Paul Elementary, a Kindergarten to Grade 5 school in St. Paul.
A number of things brought her to where she is now headed. One moment was when she was speaking with family, and received some valuable advice - the family member asked Cabaj-Martin if she simply wanted to experience the changes taking place within education, or be part of the changes, shaping and molding things firsthand.
Cabaj-Martin completed her Masters in Trauma and Resilience in Educational Settings in September of 2019, and just months later the COVID-19 pandemic would hit. She admits the timing of her education has been somewhat serendipitous.
But, Cabaj-Martin says she is someone who tends to "thrive in change," despite the many emotions that come along with it. “I know that it’s through change that we learn and grow the most.”
So, she views the opportunity of taking on the role as assistant superintendent as one that will allow her to "stretch" herself - another theme that has appeared in her life over the past year. Throughout the past year, teachers and staff have been asked to "stretch" themselves
“We, as a team, survived through pretty challenging times.”
When asked what initially sparked her interest in teaching, Cabaj-Martin admits she was "born into the profession” in a way, with a number of family members who have pursued teaching careers. But, the initial plan was to pursue an education in political sciences. She realized quickly, through experience working with children, that she enjoyed connecting with kids and experiencing those "ah-ha!" moments.
Looking ahead, Cabaj-Martin says she's eager to sit down with the administrative team, and Gamblin. She is aware that her way of thinking will have to shift, from a more focused decision-making perspective, to a much more broad perspective.
“We’ll have to change how we think a little bit.”
Keith Gamblin has spent his entire 17-year teaching career with St. Paul Education. He took on his first position at Ashmont Elementary School in 2004, teaching Grades 3, 4 and 6.
In the fall of 2009, Gamblin began his Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, specializing in language and literacy instruction, which he completed in the spring of 2013.
In 2011, Gamblin took on his first administrative role as assistant principal in Ashmont, where he remained for a couple of years.
"I loved my time at Ashmont. It was a great staff team, I had great mentors that taught me a lot about assessment and using technology to engage students in their learning," says Gamblin.
But, there was an opportunity to take on a principal role at New Myrnam School, and he made the move in the fall of 2013.
"I was blessed to be welcomed into the Myrnam community. I loved working in a small school as part of a small, tight-knit and highly collaborative team," says Gamblin. "I learned a lot about project-based learning, and how a project-based approach can help engage students in deep, meaningful learning."
Then, Gamblin's career appeared to come full circle, as he headed back to Ashmont - this time in a much more expanded role as principal of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 school.
"I was excited by the challenge of overseeing the transition of two schools (K-6 and 7-12) into one K to 12 learning community," says Gamblin. "I learned a lot from the staff about building relationships with students, parents and guardians, which helps to foster academic success."
Gamblin see his new role as assistant superintendent as a way of giving back.
"This was a great opportunity to give back, and serve our students and communities in a new role," he says, adding, "It’s a great opportunity for me personally, to continue to grow as a leader and continue to learn from the amazing people that serve our students."
As for what he hopes to accomplish at central office, Gamblin says he will strive to develop the best possible academic programming and educational opportunities for students in the division, along with continuing to foster academic achievement and success.
Gamblin says he too is looking forward to working with his new coworker.
"(Karol) has a proven track record as a dedicated and passionate educator and school leader, and I look forward to taking this journey with her."
Superintendent Glen Brodziak says he is happy to welcome Cabaj-Martin and Gamblin to the central office team.
“We have great confidence in their ability to build collaborative relationships not only in our schools, but equally as importantly with our broader community partners. We know our students will do well under their care," says Brodziak.
While Brodziak has yet to announce an official retirement date, Gervais will be retiring later this year.
She began her teaching career in the fall of 1988 at St. Paul Elementary, where she remained until 2006.
Then, she made the move to central office as the Special Needs Coordinator in the fall of 2006, and became assistant superintendent the fall of 2009.
Gervais sees her career in education as a blessing. When it comes time to retire, she "will feel blessed to have served the division for just over 33 years, 16 of them at central office and two of them on secondment with the Ministry of Education."
What will retirement look like for Gervais? "I will enjoy spending time with my grandchildren and hope to continue to serve the community in other ways." She even plans to help care for one of her grandchildren when her daughter returns to work.