The Red Deer Public School District recently announced the naming of the new Timberlands elementary school in honour of Barrie Wilson.
Lawrence Lee, chair of the board of trustees, declared at a special board meeting that the new school would be called École Barrie Wilson Elementary School.
The announcement was attended by members of the board, District Superintendent Pieter Langstraat, public school employees including Michael Good (the soon to be principal of École Barrie Wilson), and Barrie Wilson and his family.
“It’s an out of body experience. I don’t know what to say, I’m overwhelmed, amazed, honoured,” said Wilson about the school being named in his honour.
The School Naming Committee debated the name of the school over three meetings held in January, February and March. Input was also sought from stakeholders.
Construction on the school will begin this spring, and it is expected to open in September 2014. Upon opening École Barrie Wilson will have an initial capacity of 500 students with the ability to grow to a student population of 600. École Barrie Wilson will operate as a dual track English-French immersion school that will serve kindergarten to Grade 5 students.
Located on the east end of Timothy Dr., the school will also house a satellite branch of the Red Deer Public Library. “Barrie Wilson embodies all of the aspects that you want to see in a strong community member and exceptional human being,” said Langstraat in a video tribute to Wilson.
When Wilson started teaching in Red Deer in 1969 at Eastview Junior High School, it was apparent he would lead a long and prosperous teaching career, officials said.
His teaching career came to an end at Central Middle School in 2003.
Throughout his career as an educator, Wilson remained close to his French Canadian roots by being an advocate for French immersion schools in Red Deer.
“The kids have the opportunity for the dual track, and of course I’m very biased. It’s very important to have access to two languages – any two – or more.”
He has managed to leave a lasting impression on many of his fellow colleagues and many of them view him as a role model and have since taken on leadership roles themselves. “Barrie set the tone. He was visible at everything; it didn’t matter if it was a band concert, sporting event or something on the weekend,” said Ted Hutchings, vice principal at Grandview Elementary School.
A number of former co-workers said that he was there for everyone; he would take the time to sit down and listen to people. “It’s an extraordinary quality that he possesses,” said Sue Peters, former administrator for Red Deer Public Schools.
“I’ve never seen it anyone else, and it’s magic to work with.”