The very first day that Dawn Sudsbury stepped through the front doors of Archie Stouffer Elementary School in Minden, she knew she had landed somewhere special.

Taking over as principal from the recently departed Jane Austin, Sudsbury says she’s “incredibly excited” to join a school that is known across the region for its community spirit and academic excellence.

“First and foremost, what an opportunity,” Sudsbury said when discussing her motives for moving to ASES. “There are a lot of reasons why I’m excited to be here. First off, this is a really big school for our area. I love interacting with kids, and there are a lot of them here. I also like the fact that there’s a great staff in place here, and a vice principal that I can work with.”

She moves to Minden having most recently served as principal at Langton Public School in Fenelon Falls. In total, Sudsbury has more than 20 years of educational experience.

“I’ve heard many great things about this school during my time [as an educator]. I’ve seen already just how welcoming this community is” Sudsbury said.

A big part of that energy has been generated by the students themselves, who were happy to return to school under somewhat normal circumstances following close to two years of interrupted learning.

For Sudsbury, a return to in-person learning for the vast majority of the student body this year is being viewed as a major positive for a variety of reasons.

“I think that school is an important place for kids socially. You can feel the energy in the building – the kids are happy to be back, and the staff are happy and excited to have kids back in front of them,” Sudsbury said. “I know that I, for one, love the interpersonal piece of being in the school and having that interaction and personal connection with students.

Having students back inside the classroom will help academically too, Sudsbury said.

“I really think there’s an opportunity here, after having a couple of years totally interrupted by COVID-19, to work on academic achievement … We need to try and accelerate that – identify where our students are, and what we need to do to help and support them get to where they need to be,” Sudsbury noted. “I’m really passionate about early reading. That is, I think, a strength that I bring to the school, and is something I’m looking forward to working on.”