After 13 years serving students with the Rocky View School Board, Bev LaPeare has decided to take a hike.
Actually, she’s planning more than just one hike once this term ends.
LaPeare has announced she won’t be running for another term this fall as the Ward 2 trustee, meaning there will be new blood stepping onto the board now that the boundaries have officially changed.
There are some new opportunities LaPeare wants to pursue, but one of the biggest things she wants to do is getting into nature more often, something she’s limited with a hectic schedule.
“I’m an avid hiker,” LaPeare said. “Hiking is what really brings the most amount of serenity to me. No matter what is going on in my world, if I can get out in the mountains and hike, it brings me peace. It’s good for you too!”
While the Rocky Mountains are visited constantly, LaPeare has actually climbed all over the world, including Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu in Peru as well as through Costa Rica and Europe.
This summer, she’s taking her daughter with her for a trip through Ireland for 10 days as they travel the Dingle Peninsula.
When she’s on this trip in July, she will be free of stress knowing the school division is going in the right direction. She also feels good about the job she did over 13 years.
“There’s so many accomplishments I’m really proud of,” LaPeare said. “First and foremost, every time I made a decision at the board table, I looked at what was best for kids. That’s how I framed every conversation I had up there and every decision I made. I was never afraid to stand up for what’s right and do what’s right, even if it wasn’t what was popular.
“I’m a strong believer you need to live with yourself at the end of every decision. I always did what was right for kids. I treated every child in my ward as my very own. I always thought, ‘What would I want for my kids?’ ”
The pieces are in place for a new high school to get built in Langdon, with just a go ahead from the province needed for things to move forward.
When LaPeare was first elected in 2004, there were five schools in the district but now there are 10 as she steps away. Thanks to the redrawing of the boundaries, once again the Langdon area trustee will enter with five schools under his or her watch as Chestermere becomes a separate ward.
The job remains near the same as when LaPeare started what she thought would be her one and only term, but the execution is much different.
“What has changed is the political landscape,” LaPeare said. “We’ve gone through so many different ministers of education. The way they fund school boards is very different than it was before.
“Ultimately the job of a school board trustee is to advocate and make sure the needs of the constituents are met at the board level. You have to communicate effectively with the MLAs to get what you need as a school board. The big broad aspect of what a school board trustee does hasn’t changed but the little piece to make everything fit has changed quite a bit.”
LaPeare would like the transition to the new trustee to go as smoothly as possible for her students, so she’s offering anyone running a complete mentorship if they would like her help. There isn’t a question she can’t answer after 13 years on the job.
When she thinks back to the start of her tenure, it’s quite a perspective of how long she’s grown with the job. That’s another reason to let someone else take it over.
“The kids who are graduating this year are the kids who started kindergarten the first year I was elected,” LaPeare said. “That’s pretty cool. I’ve been through their entire school journey with them. It’s like my own kids. I brought them up through the system and will see them graduate. It’s the coolest thing ever.”