Thirteen years ago Sheila Swier turned a dream and a vision into reality when she established West Country Outreach School.
Now Swier, who has watched the school expand to accommodate an ever-increasing student population, is moving on.
The friendly, gregarious principal is sad to leave the school she has worked so hard to build over the years and, even as she talks about the future and the challenges of moving on, her voice becomes choked with emotion.
“This is my baby,” she said. “I have watched it morph and grow, but I have to let it go. Everyone has a shelf life and I’ve done all I can do here.”
And even though Swier is sad to leave, she is excited about her career move.
“I have taken a teaching position at Centennial Centre Patients’ School at the brain injury unit (in Ponoka). I will be part of the team working with stroke victims.”
While Swier has some personal experience in dealing with people who have suffered from a stroke, as her father was a stroke victim, she expects the new job will require a very steep learning curve.
However Swier, an advocate of lifelong learning, is up for the challenge.
“You can’t stop learning and growing and developing. And I am leading by example for my students.”
Swier has been teaching for 25 years, having worked three years in Stettler before coming to Rimbey where she taught at language arts and drama at Rimbey Junior/Senior High School.
Swier, who is the mother of three sons, she has a strong attachment to each of her students.
“Every kid I come across, they’re mine,” she said. “And I am blessed. It’s been a wonderful opportunity. Not everybody can say they love what they do every day. But I can. And the kids give back; they always give back.”
Swier has spent some time working with the new principal and she feels confident about the future of the West Country Outreach School.
“I believe the school will be left in very good hands,” she said. “And that makes me feel good.”