Students, teachers and even the new principal of Brooks Secondary School can feel a bit nervous on the first day of school.
“I woke up at 3 am,” said Bill Rounis, the new person in charge at Brooks. “I realized about three things that I'd forgotten.”
Rounis said one of the things was coffee and treats for his staff. Upon arrival at the school on September 5, Rounis was hauling two big coffee urns and boxes of donuts and muffins. He was wearing a suit to look professional and it was a hot day, so he was sweating.
“But I remembered to breathe, get in front of a fan and cool down,” he said.
Rounis moved to the corner office at Brooks after a shuffling of School District 47 principals was announced in April. Changes included former Brooks principal Jamie Burt going to Westview Elementary School and Scott Fisher going from Westview to Kelly Creek Community School, Rounis’ former post.
“This is a natural move for Bill,” said school district superintendent Jay Yule, “as his expertise and most of his experience is as a high school mathematics specialist and administrator.”
Rounis said he has set out to build on Brooks’ strengths and culture, and to move forward.
“We want to do it together,” he said. “Relationships are the hardest part and that's the part that takes time. I've really worked on being visible.”
In the short time he has been in the halls of the school, Rounis has gone into classrooms and met as many of the students as he can.
“The kids are trying to get to know who I am,” he said.
According to Yule, Rounis has all of the qualities principals in the district embrace.
“It’s a strong desire and commitment to make a difference in children’s lives,” said Yule. “Bill’s background and experience provide him with the tools to lead a comprehensive, multifaceted high school such as ours.”
When Rounis attended high school at Woodlands Secondary School in Nanaimo, he described himself as being the talkative student who always had the right answer and tried to do everything.
“I was involved with student council, sports, grad committee and always did really well,” he said.
Rounis was influenced by his physical education and social studies teacher, and volleyball coach, who became a vice-principal and eventually retired as a principal.
“I remember looking at him, and thinking, ‘I want to be just like him,’” said Rounis. “He was always super excited about life.”
That outlook is what Rounis wants to instill in students at Brooks, from grade eight through to graduation.
“Future life chances start here,” he said. “That success model is all built through here. That learning is community based, too. We all have that responsibility.”
A little known fact about Rounis is the immense pride he takes in his Greek heritage; he speaks the language fluently.
“I make a mean Greek lemon chicken,” he said. “That's my signature recipe.”
Rounis’ recipe for students’ success is, in part, a message to their families.
“You have to have an understanding and have those conversations about what's happening,” he said. “Have those conversations with the teachers and other adults in this school who are taking care of your kids, and always stay in the know.”