by Kirk Winter

While former Archie Stouffer Elementary School principal Jane Austin is excited about her new posting at Ridgewood Elementary School in Coboconk, she will miss many things about ASES including its students, the sense of community found at the school and the support for the school from the residents of Minden Hills.

Austin, a veteran teacher and administrator who began teaching in 1998 and became an administrator in 2006, has been the principal at Archie Stouffer since 2016.

When asked for some of her fondest memories of ASES, Austin shared that her best recollections are from time spent with students and their families, watching them grow and becoming effective community leaders. She also enjoyed watching their reactions to special trips and extracurricular learning opportunities, and working and supporting the students on their leadership learning journey.

“ASES is a special place,” Austin shared, “because of the sense of belonging that we all have to our school community. The students, their families, the staff and our community partners all have a role to play at Archie Stouffer. The relationships that have been developed over the years contribute exponentially to the overall educational experience of the students. I have never felt that in any other school community in such a meaningful way. This is what I love about Archie, and what I will always remember about my time spent here.”

When asked about community support for the school and its goals, Austin said, “One word can sum it up: Amazing. The Minden Hills community is vibrant. For a small town there are all kinds of community supports … to enrich the lives of our students and families.”

Austin talked about relationships built with Point in Time, the Minden Food Bank and Community Kitchen, the OPP, the municipality, Five Counties Children’s Centre, Kinark, Compass, Food for Kids and Artists in Schools that have enriched the lives of her students.

“I could go on and on and I will invariably miss someone,” Austin said, “because there are just that many organizations here for our kids. Not every school can boast such rich and varied connections.”

For Austin, Ridgewood will be a homecoming of sorts as the Coboconk school was one of the buildings that Austin taught in before moving into administration.

When asked about her replacement, Austin shared, “Ms. Dawn Sudsbury will be the new principal of ASES. She is coming to Archie from Langton Public School in Fenelon Falls. She is not familiar yet with the school community but I know that they will embrace her and welcome her to learn and lead at ASES.”

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