After seeing their dream of a new high school for Placentia and area finally come to fruition, Pam and Dave Constantine are retiring from Laval High School.
Pam is from Placentia. Her teaching career spans more than three decades – the last seven years as principal of Laval – the school she graduated from in 1974.
It’s also the school where the couple’s three children (Robyn, Jordan and Evan) received their high school education.
For Pam, returning to her alma mater as principal is like “coming full circle.”
“I never, ever thought that I would finish (my career here) in this beautiful new school. But, you don’t want me to talk about that too much because I’ll get all emotional,” she said during a recent interview at the school.
Pam is emotional about the school for very good reasons.
She spearheaded a move to bring three school councils (Laval, St. Anne’s and St. Edward’s) together. She formed the Joint School Council for Placentia with representatives from each school council. The council brought a plan to the community and gained support from those living in the area, albeit the plan called for the closure of St. Edward’s and St. Anne’s becoming a K-6 school.
Pam kept the proposal for the new school alive through three school board consolidations and elections.
She coordinated meetings with ministers of education, directors of school districts and trustees never letting go of what was best for the area.
The new $15-million Grades 7-12 school opened in Placentia September 2012 – 15 years after the original plan was put in place.
The provincial government invested $11.8 million into the school while Vale contributed $1.8 million to enhance the school’s arts and recreation facilities.
“This is a project that has benefitted everybody: the parents with children in the school and the entire community. And it’s all been working wonderfully,” Pam says.
Dave is a corner boy from Flower Hill in St. John’s. While he enjoyed his initial career in the forestry industry, he says, once he met Pam who was working as a physical educator at the time, he decided to return to post-secondary studies and earn a teaching degree from Memorial University.
He, too, wanted to work as a physical educator teacher, he says. His entire teaching career (almost three decades) has been at Laval where, under his leadership, numerous provincial and national tournaments have taken place.
“It’s the best thing I ever did,” he says of his career change.
Both Dave and Pam have been coaching various teams throughout their careers.
Dave is well known for his commitment to sport throughout the province and beyond. He’s vice-president of the Newfoundland and Labrador basketball association and has served on numerous provincial and national committees.
Like Pam, he’s also proud of the new school with a gymnasium that, he says, is unequaled anywhere in the province.
A recipient of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association Barnes Award for his commitment to professional development, Dave has always encouraged his students to “give back” to their communities.
The couple’s three children are also involved in coaching, at various levels.
“The highlight of my life has always been family and the kids here (at the school) are like my extended family,” Dave says.
Mary Greene is the office manager/administrator with the Town of Placentia. As a school council chair, she worked on the committee that rallied for a new high school.
Both Pam and Dave played an integral part in getting all stakeholders onside to move forward with the approval and construction of the new school, she says.
“They make sure the students are involved in the school and in the community – not just during school hours but whenever there are events taking place in the community.”
Laval vice-principal Sean Ryan says Pam runs “a tight, effective ship” and is well respected by both the staff and students.
“Pam is always looking for better ways for students to get educated and instills a sense of leadership in the teachers. She looks to the future and, with the world changing around us, she’s always been there to change for the benefit of our students.”
Ryan describes Dave as one of the most elite coaches in the province.
He put endless hours into sport and is never afraid to experience new things, Ryan says.
“Dave takes the curriculum and expands it as much as he can to benefit the students. His goal in life has always been healthy living and an active lifestyle. You can see that in his teaching and his volunteering and he’s passed that down to his students.”
Pam and Dave plan to become involved in Pam’s father’s (Placentia Mayor Bill Hogan) occupational health and safety business Atlantic Safety Centre.
With the new school now a reality, Pam says, it’s the right time for them to begin another chapter in their lives.
“The staff and the students and the community have taken ownership of the school. It’s been exciting for both of us to be a part of it. We feel we’ve put our stamp on it and now that’s done for both of us. You couldn’t finish a career any better than this. Now, it’s time for us to move on to something else.”
Just because both educators are moving in their lives doesn’t mean they won’t continue their involvement in the community.
“This is a great school, a great community, a great place to raise kids and a great place to retire,” Dave says.