Retiring superintendent of schools reflects on career

By Jill Sperling
July 21, 2016 - 1:49pm Updated: July 22, 2016 - 6:40am

KAMLOOPS — After 39 years with School District 73 Karl deBruijn is calling it a career, officially retiring at the end of the month. 

deBruijn started at the Kamloops-Thompson School District, previously called School District 24, as a teacher, and from there he filled a number of roles. He worked as district resource teacher, administration, principal of a number of schools, and most recently as superintendent for the past two years.

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"Although some people say that's a long time in one school district, I've had such a wonderful opportunity here to do different things here in education and so I've enjoyed every one of the jobs I've had," deBruijn said.

Originally deBruijn thought about going into social work, but he realized a stronger passion for teaching while in the Air Cadets.

"I got opportunities to go to summer camps and teach younger cadets and I really enjoyed the teaching aspect," deBruijn said. "I kind of thought, 'yeah this is really rewarding'. There's nothing better than taking a group of young people and sort of spending that time with them and getting to know them, building a relationship with them and seeing them progress and develop skills. So I found it very rewarding." 

deBruijn studied education at Simon Fraser University and upon graduation worked briefly at Lord Selkirk Elementary in Vancouver. 

"I always wanted to come back to the interior," he said. "I'm kind of a small town guy, Kamloops is a great place to live, but to be honest I didn't set out to get back to Kamloops directly." 

deBruijn and his wife, Lynn, sent out resumes across the province and it was Kamloops that provided career opportunities.

Since beginning his career, deBruijn has witnessed a number of changes in the education system, most notably with classroom technologies, but he says there has also been a shift in priorities.

"Often I find myself in discussions about what's best for the employees, what's best for the adults in the business, and I think that detracts a little bit from our focus about what's important for children, for the youth that we're here to serve," deBruijn said. "And I think that's been a big type of a change and I think that we have to be vigilant about being aware of and refocusing constantly that what's important in education is the student." 

deBruijn is now preparing for a busy retirement, planning to fill his time with travels and anxiously awaiting the birth of his first grandchild, but he won't forget the one thing that made his career count. 

"The people. The students. I've received lots and lots of cards and things from some of the families that I've worked with, the parents, but the students earlier in my career ... they've said some very kind things about, 'you've made a difference in their lives,' and I think I'm going to miss that." 

Assistant Superintendent Alison Sidow has been hired to to replace deBruijn.

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