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Belmont Principal Jim Lamond on leadership and community

“It’s always about the kids first" ~ Belmont Secondary School Principal Jim Lamond

Monday December 9, 2019 ~ LANGFORD

by Mary P Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News

For Belmont Secondary School Principal Jim Lamond the coming new year is not just about flipping the calendar to a new decade. It’s all about the many activities at the school where 1,410 Grade 9 to 12 students are building their future lives. It will be the two-year anniversary for Lamond who joined the Belmont family as its leader in January 2018.

Principal Jim Lamond, Belmont Secondary School, April 2019, artificial turf, sports field
Belmont Secondary School Principal Jim Lamond addressed students and community at the opening of the turf field behind the school, thanking the City of Langford for donating the artificial turf [April 2019 file photo – West Shore Voice News – Mary Brooke]

“A new leader in a school isn’t about leaving your mark or what I want to do,” said Lamond in a recent interview with West Shore Voice News.

“It’s about getting to know the community and coming to an understanding about what’s valued. It’s about building relationships and trust,” Lamond said right off the top.

Belmont is Lamond’s fifth opportunity in a secondary school to serve as Vice Principal or Principal. The other four schools were in Surrey. He and his family relocated to Vancouver Island as their new home, where they are now enjoying life in the amazing climate and range of activities that are all so close at hand.

The experienced school academic leader was equally quick to say that students are the centre of what public education is about. “It’s always about the kids first,” said Lamond, who of course also juggles the interests and needs of teaching staff, support staff, parents and community. “Different approaches and strategies are the way to deal with it all,” he says.

wellness centre, Belmont Secondary School
Wellness Centre within Belmont Secondary School in Langford [2016 file photo – West Shore Voice News]

“Students in high school are young adults,” says Lamond. “In education we often make decisions and come to an understanding in a way that is void of the student perspective. Kids are the experts, because this is for them,” he said with clarity and conviction.

At Belmont there is also the distinct need to recognize, honour and integrate an awareness of the long history of the school. Many people in the west shore either attended the old Belmont school on Jacklin Road or know someone in their family or career world who did. “I recognize the impact of the school over generations in the Langford area,” says Lamond.

SD62, holiday greeting
Holiday season greetings from SD62.

So now it’s been two years of getting to know people and the students and how Sooke School District 62 (SD62) works. While the west shore on Vancouver Island is a fast-growing region like Surrey on the Lower Mainland, the communities are quite different in their various dynamics. So it was a learning curve for Lamond, taking note of SD62’s own distinct set of policies and procedures. Through it all, it’s been a welcomed learning experience in which he asked a lot of questions about “why we do what we do”.

Come June2020, Lamond will have led Belmont students and families through two full academic years (2018-2019 and 2019-2020) in which there has been steady population growth in the catchment area and the region. There’s been the addition of artificial turf to expand sporting activities and the addition of portable classrooms. Some of the classroom space is being used differently than even in 2015 when the ‘new Belmont’ opened in September of that year. A section that was used exclusively by Camosun College during the day was soon made available for use by Belmont students during the day and Camosun for evening classes after regular school hours. There is an Island Health drop-in wellness clinic in the school that is popular with youth.

Belmont Secondary School, portables, population growth
Three portables behind Belmont Secondary School help accommodate the burgeoning student population. [West Shore Voice News photo by Mary Brooke – August 2019]

In September 2015 the new school was not equipped with new technology as it was a replacement school. “In the fall of 2018, a Ministry of Education Student Learning Grant supported the renewal of the programming and gaming lab,” says Lamond.  The school learning commons now has 60 new Chromebooks. “These are well used spaces,” the principal says. “It was important to get sustainable equipment for staff and students.” A refresh of staff technology has been part of the tech improvements under Lamond’s watch.

“Decisions with school staff are always school-wide and collaborative,” says the bright-eyed Principal who has an open spacious office with a full view of the main arrival area (vehicles and people) through wide windows. “My role is ever-changing. My role is to help the school own itself,” says Lamond. There are presently 84 teaching staff as well as education assistants, custodial staff and day care staff – in total about 110 employees fulfilling their careers within the walls of the three-level school.

“Healthy schools are autonomous,” he says, with the mission that people be supported in mastering their skills and that everyone leads with purpose. “I empower staff to be part of decisions, lead decisions, and help produce an equitable collaborative voice.”

Belmont Secondary students, SD62-RRU pop-up, November 15, 2019
Four students from Belmont Secondary School at the SD62/RRU pop-university event on November 15, 2019 in Langford. From left: Keagan Tait, Doreen Scow, Hali Marquis, and Carson Montague. [West Shore Voice News – Mary Brooke]

The next big evolution for students in the west shore is that starting in September 2020, high school graduates will be able to apply to attend undergraduate courses at Royal Roads University in Colwood, just a stone’s throw from Langford.

“This is exciting to me,” says Lamond, recognizing the huge potential for more students to take advantage of post-secondary education essentially in their own back yard, which reduces the cost and stress of relocating for continued education.

The winter concert by Belmont students on December 5 was a highlight of the week for the school’s principal. And the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive featuring the combined efforts of students at three SD62 high schools is coming up December 11.

It’s big to involve the community at Belmont. “We can’t share our school enough with people who come to visit,” says Lamond.

===== NOTES:

SD62 logo
Sooke School District 62 (SD62)

Belmont Secondary School is one of three high schools in Sooke School District 62 (SD62), located in Langford at 3041 Langford Lake Road. The other two high schools are Royal Bay Secondary School (located in Colwood) and Edward Milne Community School (in Sooke).

SD62 is the fastest-growing school district in BC, due to a high demand for the relatively affordable family-style housing in Langford on the west shore of Vancouver Island.

Belmont Secondary School, snow, February 2019
Belmont Secondary School in rare snowy weather, February 13, 2019 [West Shore Voice News photo – Mary Brooke]