Out-going superintendent rooted in Foothills
Education: Litke proud of division’s post-flood work
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 11:08 am
The toughest moments in Foothills School Division’s history were also its finest says the out-going superintendent.
“About 40 per cent of our staff were directly affected by the flood,” said superintendent of schools Del Litke. “Our schools have pulled through remarkably well. Our staff has given, given and given. When I go to schools and I am so proud of the fact our kids are happy and they have had a good year of learning. This school division and this community has done a remarkable job of facing the challenges.”
Litke joined the division four years ago as deputy superintendent, learning services. He made the jump to superintendent of schools in January when Denise Rose retired at Christmas — something Litke also had eyes on doing.
“I had pretty much decided this would be my last year just before the flood (June 20, 2013),” Litke said. “I had mused about leaving as early as Christmas… but a funny thing happened on the way to retirement. The superintendent (Rose) and I had both thought about leaving at Christmas.”
It was decided Rose would retire and Litke would take over the top helm in order to mentor assistant superintendents Allen Davidson and Todd Schmekel who joined the team earlier this year.
Both are now ready to run on their own.
“These are extremely talented people who have kids on the forefront of their minds in every decision,” Litke said. “The new superintendent (John Bailey) is a veteran administrator who has a fine reputation in Alberta.”
Litke came to the division from the Wolf Creek School Division in the Lacombe area four years ago.
“I am not one who uproots very easily,” Litke said. “One conversation led to another and my wife and I thought it would be a tremendous adventure to come down to southern Alberta. We always felt the foothills were incredibly beautiful and we never regretted our decision to move to High River, even though at times it has been a little difficult.”
His feet are even more entrenched in the community after the flood of 2013.
Although he and his family suffered significant flood damage at his home, Litke and many members of the Foothills School Division staff helped flood evacuees at Blackie School.
Blackie was chosen when the original evacuation site at Highwood High School in High River had to be evacuated.
“I had the keys to Blackie and we phoned an emergency operation centre there that night,” Litke said. “There were some teachers there and I asked them to set up maybe 30 or 40 chairs because I had no idea how many people would be there. I looked around at midnight and there were hundreds of people there… People were soaked and that is when it hit me how serious it is. I will never forget the way the town of Blackie and the school rallied around High River.”
Litke’s final board meeting was June 15 at High River. He will continue to live in High River and his wife Denise will carry on teaching at Joe Clark School in High River.
Okotoks Ward trustee Laurie Copland said Litke has been invaluable since coming to Foothills four years ago.
“I think he has brought a lot of knowledge and new things to Foothills School Division,” said Copland, who was tearing up at Litke’s final board meeting. “He’s made it better for kids and their learning all the way around.”