Principal Anthony Ciolfitto is leaving, but you already knew that.
Since coming to Riverside in January 2011, Ciolfitto has been an instrumental force in cultivating our culture, making a school of over 1400 students a consistently safe and positive place to be. Riverside has been at the forefront of educational innovation in British Columbia for years now, a feat that would have undoubtedly been impossible without the unflinching support of Ciolfitto in every facet of school life.
Sue Henderson, our teacher librarian, credits Ciolfitto for the collaborative staff culture that lets so many amazing things happen in classrooms. “He cultivated a collegial culture of teachers and staff being excited and passionate about their jobs and what they do. Riverside is amazing – educational conversations are happening all the time and there is so much communication and collaboration that we have formed a strong, supportive community.”
One of the defining features of our school is the 1:1 Digital Immersion program, which started in 2007. In 2011, the program expanded from 30 students to over 300 and a system to support all the students and teachers involved had to be established. Jeremy Brown, a science teacher, described the process of implementing technology in every classroom. “Every Wednesday, teachers would get together to discuss everything that was happening in the program. Ciolfitto would lead the group through the discussion and figure out how to fix the problems and help the kids as much as possible.” Ciolfitto also helped set up the Tech Team, a group of students who keep 1:1 running as smoothly as possible and lead the Grade 9 Digital Bootcamp, an essential day for new students to learn how to use their digital devices. Forming partnerships with companies eager to branch out in to education, Ciolfitto gave Riverside students the ability to incorporate their digital knowledge in to their learning and gain a new level of technological capability, an essential skill to have going in to the workforce in the 21st century. Ciolfitto credits it as one of his greatest accomplishments at Riverside.
Of course, no article about Mr. Ciolfitto could ever be complete without mentioning Liege, the black lab who roams the hallways with him. Liege is a PADS service dog who came to the school (and quite quickly became our mascot) after a two-year long process that included interviews and home and school visits. Liege is capable of helping every student, from the counselling office in times of distress to the classroom before a big test. He is a welcome distraction to a long day that is only going to get longer, and I imagine that was the intended effect.
It is evident how much Ciolfitto cares about his students just by seeing him walk down the hallway. “He’s always kind to everybody and smiles at you in the hallway, every day,” said Jayci Chambers, a grade 12 student. Ciolfitto’s contribution to the school will not go unrecognized – grade 12 students invited him, en masse, to their commencement ceremony.
“Everybody was really shocked by the news that Ciolfitto was leaving. Since he has been such a good principal, we wanted to do something special for him because it seemed weird to not do anything,” said Brendan Galloway, one of the students who helped organize the invitation. “He has done so much for us as a principal, so we wanted to do something for him as well.”
When Ciolfitto came to Riverside, he had never been a Principal before. It’s kind of like being the new kid in school, and then being told that you have to run the place. About to be thrown in to a similar situation at Centennial, the Eddy asked Mr. Ciolfitto how he was feeling. He said, “Emotional.”