Mennonite Educational Institute’s incoming principal, Mark Thiessen, says moving to Abbotsford is “like coming full circle” back to the town where he met his wife Tracey at Columbia Bible College.
Thiessen is leaving his post as superintendent in the Williams Lake school district to take the helm at MEI this fall.
“While the world may see a move from a school district superintendent to a school principal as a step down, we don’t see it that way,” he said in an email. “I have moved between administration jobs and teaching jobs in the past and have never tried to look at my career as moving in one direction only.”
Thiessen said he had originally planned to spend his entire educational career in the secular public system but saw the benefits of a religious education when his children attended a Christian school for 18 months in Rwanda.
“I truly came to appreciate the privilege of teaching and learning in a Christian setting,” he said. “Being able to provide a quality education while also preparing students for life as a Christian in today’s world is both an honour and a huge responsibility.”
Thiessen first worked for the Williams Lake district as an intern at age 15 and has since done everything from custodial and grounds maintenance to teaching and finally leaving the district as a superintendent, a role he filled for four years.
Thiessen said he is looking forward to implementing a new curriculum at MEI, as well as being in more direct contact with students than his last job.
“I’m a big believer in equipping and supporting teachers,” he said.
Thiessen said his wife Tracey is looking forward to working as a nurse in the area and his three youngest children are sad to leave their friends behind but, like their parents, they are excited for a new beginning in Abbotsford. The move will also bring the Thiessen family closer together, as their eldest daughter, Brooklyn, already attends Trinity Western University in Langley.
“Mark was the unanimous recommendation of the secondary principal search committee and affirmed, also unanimously, by the MEI board of directors,” said Vijay Manuel, head of schools at MEI, in a press release announcing Thiessen’s hiring.