by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
Wayne Rufiange is the very first public school principal the Town of Morinville has ever had. It’s a role he’s shaped and worked at for six years and, this week, it comes to an end. Rufiange is saying goodbye to Morinville Public School (MPS) students, his teaching staff, and the Sturgeon School Division (SSD) community to take on a new opportunity in the Town of Westlock—that of high school principal.
Originally from the Westlock area, Rufiange described his forthcoming move as a return to his roots. The educator accepted the top job at R.F. Staples School (with the Pembina Hills Public School Division); it’s an odd feeling for him, though, since he graduated from that very school some years ago. “Next year will actually be my twenty-fifth high school reunion there,” he laughed, adding, “I would have never thought as a kid that I would be principal of my high school one day.” The move to this new school also has another special connection: “my sister works as a member of the admin staff at [R.F. Staples], so it’ll be fun to get to work with her too,” he remarked.
Rufiange explained he saw the opening at his hometown high school as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, just like he had once seen a unique opportunity six years ago to help bring public education to the Town of Morinville. “Change is a good thing,” he noted, “…and I think this is also a good time to take a step back and let a fresh set of eyes take over, to steer the ship here at MPS.”
Discussing some of the growing pains MPS has experienced since the school first opened in 2011—most particularly, its exponential growth and the challenges that come with that—Rufiange said it didn’t play a significant role in his decision to leave. “I’m well aware that every school will have its challenges, every community does,” he maintained.
Taking over for Rufiange is Shawna Walter, one of MPS’ current Vice-Principals. Rufiange said the transition of roles would be a smooth one, and said if he could give Walter one piece of advice it would be to focus on one thing at a time. There’s a lot left to accomplish, he said, but keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Walter, a three-year veteran of MPS, said she has truly enjoyed working with Rufiange. “He will be sadly missed by the staff and students of MPS,” she said, “he has grown this school from the beginning, taking on the vision of bringing public education to Morinville. He put his heart and soul into creating an amazing school.”
Grade one MPS teacher, Monique Webb (one of the six original teachers who started at the school when it was first created) said she too would miss her friend and mentor.
“Wayne has been a wonderful principal and teammate. His motto ‘flexible, adaptable and go with the flow,’ describes his personality pretty well. He was tasked with a very challenging job, but he took it on with grace and poise,” she expressed.
Webb asserted the MPS Principal has always had a great attitude. He kept his staff laughing, she said, even when times seemed tough or when staff has faced with an ever-changing work environment.
Rufiange said, at the end of the day, he will remember his time at MPS with great fondness. “I’d like to thank the people from Morinville,” he added, “this community is so accepting, and it’s been a joy to experience successes and the excitement and all those positive things here.”