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Longtime North Okanagan principal calls it a career

Ken Gatzke, current principal at Vernon Secondary who also worked at Fulton and Charles Bloom in Lumby, retiring
Vernon Secondary School principal Ken Gatzke (back row, left), a co-coach with the Panthers’ Grade 8 boys basketball team, announced his retirement this week, ending a 32-year career in education. (Rhonda Hove Photo)

This week, he’s helping coach a Grade 8 boys basketball team at provincial championships.

That’s not unusual for Ken Gatzke, principal at Vernon Secondary School. Whether it’s VSS or when he was at Fulton and Charles Bloom Secondary in Lumby, Gatzke could be found on the sidelines helping coach or in the stands cheering on and supporting his schools’ teams.

Gatzke, from Lumby, is a supporter of all things educational. Has been since he graduated from Bloom in 1982, attended the University of Victoria to become a teacher, then garnered his master’s degree in leadership and training from Victoria’s Royal Roads University.

Through his career, Gatzke has dealt with a lot. Deaths of students, teachers, support staff. Strikes. Happy parents. Unhappy parents. And, of course, helping guide all involved in local education at his school through the pandemic of the last two years.

After 32 years, Gatzke will retire at the end of June.

“While I still love my job, I figured it was time to check out the other things in life,” said Gatzke.

He started teaching math and science in 1990 in Golden, in B.C.’s Columbia region, and stayed there for 10 years before the lure to move home was too good to pass up. Gatzke returned to the hallowed hallways of Charles Bloom as vice-principal, a post he held for six years before moving up to become principal.

Gatzke, who still lives in Lumby, was principal at Bloom for eight years before heading west on Highway 6 to Clarence Fulton Secondary in Vernon. He was principal for four years before moving up the hill to VSS.

“We want to congratulate Ken Gatzke after a terrific career in education and five highly successful years as principal of Vernon Secondary School,” said Vernon School District superintendent Christine Perkins. “Thank you, Ken, for all you have done for our district children and their families. We wish Ken the very best in this next exciting stage of his life.”

That next stage for Gatzke and wife Teresa includes spending time on the lake, be it on Mabel Lake or at their RV lot on Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island.

“Life’s too short so we’re going to play,” said Gatzke.

Perkins announced more administrative moves Wednesday, March 2.

Kalamalka Secondary vice-principal Brad Krahn has announced his retirement after a lengthy career.

Coldstream Elementary vice-principal Dan Curtis will be returning to teaching in the fall.

Harwood Elementary principal Lea Sherwood is resigning and returning to Alberta for the fall.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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