School trustee will not seek re-election
Rocky View Schools (RVS) will see a new trustee elected for Ward 3 in late October. Longtime board member Don Thomas will not seek re-election in Ward 3, which represents Airdrie schools, and is retiring after a career that lasted more than 30 years.
“I’ve been talking to some people for the past few months,” Thomas said.
“I’m getting old – you have to make room for other people. I think for the most part, it’s a good thing.”
Thomas served three terms on the RVS school board as the Ward 3 trustee.
Before that, he taught math, physics and chemistry; was principal of École Manachaban Middle School in Cochrane, Chestermere High School and George McDougall High School – a role he said he still misses.
“(Students) keep you alive, and there’s an honesty there. Some people lose faith with teenagers – not me. They’re brutally honest, refreshingly simple,” he said. “The (teachers) you still remember are the ones that took the time to make you who you are. I still miss that, 12 years out.”
Student population growth in Airdrie and Rocky View County was among the prominent issues facing Thomas during his nine years as a trustee on the board. He was involved in the decision to build two new schools in Airdrie, both of which are now set to open in September 2014.
Thomas counts a May 24, 2011 celebration amongst his proudest achievements as a school board trustee.
On that date, former premier Ed Stelmach visited George McDougall High School to find a packed gymnasium of kids and community members thrilled to hear confirmation about new schools.
The announcement, Thomas said, represented the culmination of months of hard work.
“What it was, was politics at its best. It was a desperate, critical situation,” he said.
“If we didn’t (come together), we’d have kids in the streets. I can’t express how outstanding it was. It was grassroots.”
Oct. 21 is set as the date for elections to find a new trustee to represent Airdrie schools alongside fellow Ward 3 trustee Sylvia Eggerer.
Thomas said he hoped the board would continue to work together in order to best serve the community.
“It can get negative, but what do you gain? You gain nothing that way,” he said. “If we discuss (issues) and leave with mutual respect, it’s a whole different ballgame.”
Thomas will continue to live in Airdrie with his wife. They have three children and one grandchild, and after retirement he hopes to travel across Canada and the United States. But Thomas hopes to remain involved in the profession and community he dedicated himself to.
“There’s no question (I’ll stay involved). It’s like saying I’m going to cut off my right arm and not think about it,” he said. “No part of the community can be ignored. We all work together.”