St. Francis de Sales principal and learning-assistance teacher shown great appreciation at send-off
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
It was a bittersweet retirement for two St. Francis de Sales elementary school educators. Cecilia McLaren, the principal, and Julianna Craig, the school's learning assistance teacher, had worked tirelessly and passionately at their profession for a combined 47 years. Both are now looking forward to the next phase in their lives.
"It's been a privilege to work in a faith-based environment, but I can't teach forever," Craig said.
"I will miss the children," added McLaren.
Both long-time educators look forward to spending time with their families and exploring new opportunities in their golden years.
McClaren plans to travel with her husband to visit family in England and Italy, and the couple owns a cabin where McLaren plans to spend more time riding her horse Nazko Glory. She also looks forward to spending time with her 3-year-old grandson Aidan who, she said, "likes to go to Mass with Grandma."
Craig hasn't made any immediate plans but wants to pursue joys put on the back burner while she was working. She will also be busy with her 10 grandchildren.
McLaren was born and raised in England, where she trained as a teacher and completed a minor in history and theology.
She moved to Canada and started working at St. Francis de Sales in 1970. She took 11 years off to raise her children before returning to St. Francis full time in 1986. She became principal in 1995.
Father Thomas Smith, paster of St. Francis de Sales Parish, said McLaren was a tireless worker who put in long hours. Even though she officially retired from the school in June, McLaren is still contributing by making sure the school's new preschool and daycare open as planned.
"We thank (McLaren) for nurturing the Catholic faith in our young people these many years," Father Smith said. "We are grateful for all she has accomplished and wish her the best in retirement."
Craig was born in Cranbrook in 1945 and raised in Nelson. She graduated from Simon Fraser University and settled in Port Edward near Prince Rupert and taught in the public school system in the late 1960s and early '70s.
Craig was a Baptist but converted to Catholicism with her husband and her two children in 1975. She said she didn't feel comfortable at the Protestant churches after she moved to northern B.C. Craig and her husband Anthony have since had three more children, all baptized Catholic.
She volunteered for a year at Our Lady of Mercy Elementary School before starting at St. Francis de Sales in 1991 as a learning-assistance teacher. She said she found the position most rewarding.
"Working to bring joy into these children's lives is what learning assistance is all about," Craig said.
"Julianna has been a delight to work with, and we thank her for all the years she has made learning more enjoyable to countless children, and for passing on the Catholic faith which she holds dear," commented Father Smith.