Gwen Jahelka is stepping down as principal of St. Joseph’s School in Chemainus following the end of the school year.
Jahelka has served as the private Catholic school’s administrator-in-chief for four years, she said, and is taking leave to join her husband in Calgary, Alta., in early July.
Jahelka referred to her departure as “bittersweet” while fielding a hug from a young student during recess.
The school’s parting principal began her career with Catholic schools in Alberta before relocating to Vancouver Island to teach Grade 4 at St. Joseph’s for three years. She then served as the religious education co-ordinator for Island Catholic Schools for three years before returning to St. Joseph’s to serve as principal.
Jahelka will assume the role of school chaplain with a Calgary Catholic School District high school, putting her master’s degree in religious education to good use as she “ helps kids with their spiritual journeys,” she said.
“It’s a great time for change, and I’ve always believed that when you leave you make room for someone else,” Jahelka added. “You make your mark and move on.”
Bern Muller, the school’s Grade 6-7 teacher, has been selected to succeed Jahelka.
Muller has taught at St. Joseph’s for 17 years, Jahelka said, and he “will continue our mission of Catholic schooling with passion and conviction.”