Cindy Heitman, Deputy Superintendent
Cindy Heitman will serve as a voice of experience in her role as deputy superintendent of School District No. 57.
Heitman, previously an assistant superintendent in the district, was appointed to the deputy position on Jan. 22. She will provide direct support to Anita Richardson, who started as superintendent on Jan. 1. Heitman will also work closely with assistant superintendents Lee Karpenko and Kap Manhas, both of whom are new to their jobs. Karpenko and Manhas – formerly principals at Duchess Park Secondary School and Prince George Secondary School respectively – took on the duties of assistant superintendents on the same day Heitman became deputy.
"My focus will be working with the senior team supporting the operations of our schools – working closely with schools and departments in support of student learning," Heitman said.
Heitman was an assistant superintendent for nearly three years. Prior to that, for six years, she was district principal of Learning Innovations. In that post, she made significant impacts at the district and provincial levels.
"Cindy has provided leadership to our district for a long time," said Tim Bennett, chair of the Board of Education. "Even in the time that I've been a trustee (since 2011), she's been a school principal and then she moved into the position of principal of our Learning Innovations department, or what some would refer to as our curriculum department. Not only did she lead the curriculum transformation here in School District 57 but was really a leader across the province in the work that she was doing around reporting and implementing the new curriculum."
Heitman's connection to School District No. 57 goes back to elementary school. She was a student at North Nechako Elementary, Springwood Elementary and did her secondary schooling at Kelly Road.
After Heitman obtained an undergraduate degree and her teaching credentials from Burnaby's Simon Fraser University, she returned to Prince George and became a TTOC (teacher teaching on call) in 1995. Heitman then accepted a job at Ron Brent Elementary and, as she advanced in her career, taught from Kindergarten to Grade 10 at various schools throughout the district. Her stops included Blackburn Elementary, Quinson Elementary, Westwood Elementary, Southridge Elementary, Heather Park Middle School and John McInnis Junior Secondary. In addition to her positions as a classroom teacher, her specialties were inclusive education, music prep and P.E. prep.
"I have diverse experience within our community and I understand different demographic groups throughout the city," Heitman said.
Heitman, who holds a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from SFU, transitioned out of teaching and into administration in 2004 when she became vice principal of Harwin Elementary. After a year at Harwin, she transferred to Heather Park Middle School, where she was vice principal for two years. Heitman then worked as principal at Peden Hill Elementary for three years and principal at Harwin for one year. Her post at Harwin directly preceded her move to district principal of Learning Innovations.
Prior to the Jan. 22 appointments, SD 57 had one superintendent and two assistant superintendents. The newly-created position of deputy superintendent was a response to a downsizing of the senior administration team and board office staff in 2010 and the current growth in enrolment the district is experiencing.
"The creation of that (deputy superintendent position) is just one part of the plan," Bennett said. "Over the last few weeks we've looked at a series of moves, of which the deputy superintendent is one piece. All of these moves will actually save the district in and around the ballpark of $100,000 a year and that means more resources being put into our buildings."
Lee Karpenko, Assistant Superintendent
As a teacher and school principal, Lee Karpenko's priority was to meet students on their own ground and to give them the support and tools required for success. He intends to use the same strategy at a district level.
Karpenko stepped into the role of assistant superintendent in School District No. 57 on Jan. 22. He had been doing the job on an interim basis since September but, before that, was principal at Duchess Park Secondary School.
"I've always been focused on providing the best experience for all kids at school," he said. "Now I get to have a larger influence on not only the kids in my school but the kids in the district."
Karpenko grew up in Prince George and graduated from Prince George Secondary School. He received his teaching certification through Simon Fraser University and completed a Masters degree in Curriculum, Instruction and Leadership, also through SFU.
Karpenko has spent his entire career in his hometown. He taught at Duchess Park, Blackburn Junior Secondary and College Heights Secondary before he moved into school leadership as a vice principal at PGSS. He then served as principal at Heather Park Middle School and later took on the role of principal at Kelly Road Secondary. Next came a short stint as district principal of Skills, Trades and Careers, which led into a four-year run as principal at Duchess Park.
Karpenko is now in his 26th year in School District No. 57.
Karpenko's career highlights to date include launching the myBlueprint Education Planner in SD 57, helping to negotiate a dual-credit agreement between SD 57 and the College of New Caledonia and the University of Northern British Columbia for students entering university transfer programs, and bringing hands-on and relevant learning opportunities to schools.
"Lee is a proud product of School District 57," said Tim Bennett, chair of the Board of Education. "He also has done incredible work provincially. He was on the board of directors with the B.C. Principals' and Vice Principals' Association and has been a mentor to many new principals both in the district and provincially.
"His experience in the district really complements the leadership team. He brings that experience and history to senior administration and the board table."
Kap Manhas, Assistant Superintendent
The words of a valued mentor ring true for Kap Manhas as he takes on new responsibilities as an assistant superintendent in School District No. 57.
"I had a mentor who said, 'As you move from teacher to vice principal, and vice principal to principal, as you move through these different jobs, the focus on the students remains the same and your classroom just gets bigger,'" said Manhas, who joined the district's senior administration team on Jan. 22. "I think that's probably what excites me the most. You get to sit in a district position where your classroom is the entire district, and really, you're focusing on the same thing as the individual teacher in the classroom – how can I make learning engaging and exciting for the kids in front of me?"
Manhas is in his 20th year in School District No. 57. Prior to his appointment as an assistant superintendent, he was principal at the district's largest building, Prince George Secondary School, for more than two years. Earlier in his career, Manhas was a six-year vice principal at PGSS, the same school from which he graduated.
After high school, Manhas continued his education at the College of New Caledonia and Simon Fraser University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Education degree. He also holds a Masters degree in Administration and Leadership from Gonzaga University.
Manhas's first job in SD 57 brought him back to his alma mater -- he was a teacher for half a year at PGSS. He then accepted a teaching position at the original Duchess Park Secondary School and was there for three years. Next came a year at the Centre for Learning Alternatives and a three-year assignment at John McInnis Junior Secondary. In his third year at John McInnis, he took on the role of acting vice principal. Manhas found he loved the work and applied to become a vice principal for the following school year. He was the successful candidate for an opening at Lakewood Junior Secondary and that marked his transition from teacher to full-time administrator.
Manhas spent one year at Lakewood and then made the move to PGSS for his six-year run as vice principal. A one-year term as principal at Kelly Road followed, and then Manhas was right back at PGSS as acting principal for one year. Next, he became the district principal for Skills, Trades and Careers for a short term and then moved into the position of district principal of Learning Innovations. From there, Manhas went back to PGSS as principal and was a driving force behind the introduction of the Polar Performing Arts program. During that time, he doubled as district principal of International Education.
The depth and diversity of Manhas's experience made him a natural fit for the role of an assistant superintendent in SD 57.
"Kap is really leading the way with what's happening in our schools and I know his staff and students at PGSS are really going to miss him but we're really excited to have him as an assistant superintendent and have that voice and passion around our table," said Tim Bennett, chair of the Board of Education. "He'll also help bring that voice and support for the work being done by our superintendent."