General Amherst principal calling it a career

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The end of the 2016-17 school year will also be the end of Hazel Keefner’s career in education.

Keefner’s last official day as the General Amherst High School principal is June 30 as she is retiring after a 29-year career, all but one of those years with the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“I have mixed feelings,” said Keefner, as her final day approaches. “I’ve been going to school since I was four-years-old. It’ll be strange not to go to school anymore.”

Keefner said she discovered at the end of last year that if she didn’t return to school, she would still have enough in her life to keep her busy. Things that will be keeping her busy in her retirement include travelling, spending time with family and volunteering.

After finishing teacher’s college, Keefner took a “four-year detour” in law school before a position in teaching opened up at Holy Names for the 1988-89 school year. She spent one year at Holy Names before coming to the public board when she was hired to teach at General Amherst by then-principal Rod Paulin.

“I got hired in this very office,” she told the RTT during an interview last Wednesday in the principal’s office.

In 1990, she was transferred to Essex District High School where spent the next 14 years teaching law. Among her accomplishments there were having classes take part in the Canadian Bar Association’s mock trial competitions and teaching many future police officers.

Hazel Keefner is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 school year, with her last official day being June 30. She has spent the last five years as the principal of General Amherst High School.

Hazel Keefner is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 school year, with her last official day being June 30. She has spent the last five years as the principal of General Amherst High School.

Keefner moved to Western Secondary School in 2004 and spent the next two years as vice principal. In 2006, she became the vice principal at Kingsville District High School and spent two years there as well.

In 2008, Keefner became the principal at Riverside Secondary School and spent four years there before coming to back General Amherst as principal in 2012.

In her 13 years in administration, one of her highlights was General Amherst surviving the Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) process and getting approved for a new build in Amherstburg to accommodate General Amherst and Western.

“When they start the process, you never know what is going to happen,” said Keefner. “My own children went here so it’s near and dear to my heart.”

Current Western principal Melissa DeBruyne will transfer to General Amherst in September and Keefner believes DeBruyne will be an asset for when the Amherst and Western staff and student populations will come under one roof.

Keefner thanked the parents for their support during her time at General Amherst.

“When home and school work together, we can accomplish so much more,” she said.

The staff at General Amherst also receives Keefner’s praise.

“The staff has been an absolute pleasure to work with,” she said. “They are very dedicated and they care about the students they teach.”

General Amherst is a strong school for academics, athletics and the arts and Keefner added “it’s nice to end (my career) at a school where academics, athletics and arts are done so well.”

The town itself was also thanked.

“The community is so supportive of its high school,” said Keefner. “It makes the principal’s job a little bit easier.”

Keefner said the end of her career is “bittersweet” for her.

“I’m going to miss people like crazy,” she said. “I’ve been very lucky to have worked here.”

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