When Karen Dolynny officially retires at the end of June, she will have worked for Rocky View Schools (RVS) for 30 years. The current executive assistant to the school superintendent said she’s enjoyed her time with the school division but is looking forward to spending more time with family.
“My children live out of province. They’re both married and between the two of them I have five grandchildren that I’ve been able to build a really good relationship, thankfully, through FaceTime and we get together quite a bit,” she said. “I’m planning on visiting them more and spending time with my hubby doing things we want to do.”
The avid quilter and crocheter said she also intended to volunteer her talents and time to the Airdrie Lioness and Calgary Pregnancy Crisis Centre, donating blankets and quilts.
Dolynny started at Muriel Clayton Middle School as a special needs assistant in 1987. From there, she moved to Ecole Airdrie Middle School and worked as a school assistant for a couple of years before moving to Meadowbrook Middle School, where she worked as the school secretary until 2004.
“I loved it. I learned a lot in those years, going from being school assistant where you’re behind the scenes to the front line (at Meadowbrook),” she said.
In November 2004, she moved to the education centre to work in curriculum and instruction.
“In January 2005, when I returned from my Christmas break, the superintendent of the day asked if I would be willing to cover a leave for the executive assistant…on a temporary basis,” she said. “Scared to death and nervous as all get out, I walked into that role because it was executive assistant to the superintendent and also board secretary as well.”
After being in the role for three months, the individual she was covering for decided not to return and Dolynny took over permanently. She’s been in that role for 12 years, through six different superintendents. She said she’s learned something from each superintendent she’s served.
“The first superintendent taught me a lot about the political atmosphere of a division. When you’re working with a board, of course you’ve got your administration and then your political. He taught me a lot about leadership, too,” she said.
“Greg Bass had such a really sense of humour. He taught me lots of flexibility and how to work with a whole range of people. He really encouraged me a lot. (The superintendents) have always been really supportive of professional learning.”
Dolynny initially thought she would retire a year ago but said she decided to stay on when it was announced the division would be getting a new superintendent, Greg Luterbach.
“I just thought, if you put in a new executive assistant into that role as well he won’t have a lot of the background and history from that person that he’s going to need to start in that role,” she said. “I talked to my hubby about it and we just decided I would stay on another year. I honestly hadn’t felt 100 per cent right in my heart about retiring then. Greg Luterbach is so independent and an extraordinary man – I think he’s going to be just fine without me.”
RVS held a special reception for Dolynny June 15. She said she was overwhelmed by the effort her fellow staff members made on her behalf.
“I’ve always considered Rocky View Schools (to be) home. I’ve never, ever regretted the decision to work for Rocky View and I’ve never, ever even considered looking beyond or outside of Rocky View,” she said. “I’ve always felt this is where I wanted to be and needed to be.
“That’s what I’m going to miss the most – the relationships and the friendships that I’ve made.”