Superintendent Constance McLeese is stepping down from the Flin Flon School Division (FFSD) this summer.
Though her decision was known within the division since May, the division’s top official made her retirement official at the FFSD’s May 28 board of trustees meeting.
“Although her time with us was short, we truly appreciate all of the knowledge and great leadership she has provided us,” said board chair Leslie Fernandes. “We really do wish her well in retirement and invite her to come back and visit us again.”
An educator and administrator for nearly 40 years, McLeese joined the school division in 2016 and served as the division’s superintendent for three years. The FFSD’s first female superintendent will officially leave the division July 31.
Over the holidays this past year, McLeese visited family in eastern Canada. She plans on spending more time with family members in her retirement.
“It became evident when I visited home at Christmas time something had to be thought through and as we mulled it over, it became fairly obvious what we had to do,” she said.
During McLeese’s time as superintendent, she served with two different school boards, both before and after last year’s local elections. She heaped praise on the trustees of the board, past and present, including their work on the board’s response to the provincial K-12 education review commission.
“They’re the people who need to think through the long term policy and strategic part of what happens here. These people are extremely dedicated and spend an awful lot of time. We’re almost like a little bit of a cult or something because we spend so much time together,” McLeese said. “That guidance and direction that they give makes this an absolutely stellar division.”
McLeese came to Flin Flon with experience in administrating smaller schools, including work in Ontario, Nova Scotia and abroad. She said her time in Flin Flon will occupy a special place for her.
“It’s the little train that could. This was always a world class division. I think that if I was able to do anything, I was able to maybe consolidate some of that,” she said. “You get a sense of what we do when you look at that K-12 report. That’s not something you do as an individual. That’s something because I work with some incredibly dedicated and smart people. So they always make me look very, very good.”
It didn’t take long for the FFSD to replace McLeese and trustees didn’t need to look very far. Assistant superintendent Tammy Ballantyne will fill the soon-to-be vacant post beginning July 1. Ballantyne and McLeese, who have already worked closely since Ballantyne’s predecessor Dean Grove retired in 2017, will co-serve on the board’s executive through July before McLeese officially steps away.
“Tammy brings years of experience in education and will provide us with respectful and passionate leadership. Thank you to both Constance and Tammy for your dedication to our school division,” said Fernandes.
Ballantyne was brief in her first remarks following the announcement.
“I am very honoured that the board has offered me the position. I don’t know what to say,” she said.
“She will do a wonderful job. She will do an absolutely stellar job,” said McLeese.