Charlottetown's Kevin Whitrow, still savouring his honour as one of Canada's top 40 principals, says what gets him going every day is a "connection with kids" and a love of learning.

"I'm never bored, I can say that honestly," the principal of Colonel Gray High School told Mainstreet P.E.I.'s Karen Mair.

"I have never been bored a single day of work in my life, and if I get bored I just go for a walk for a few minutes and walk into a classroom, and instantly it goes away!"

Whitrow, who was honoured by the national charitable organization, The Learning Partnership, said it came as a "total surprise" that his name had been put forward.

All those selected were recognized "for demonstrating innovation, having an entrepreneurial spirit and for employing creativity in finding solutions and opportunities," the Learning Partnership says on its website.

"I had no idea it was happening," he said, thanking all those who supported his nomination, a process that included writing letters of support.

And taking part in a February conference in Toronto with the other 39 winners from across Canada was another chance to grow and learn, he said.

"You realize that fundamentally we're all just at that same [place] trying to make things work for kids, and trying to create an environment where the learning happens the best it can."

'Fundamentals still the same'

But whether he's at a conference far from home, or hard at work at school, the focus is the same, he said.

"It's the connection to kids," said Whitrow who has worked in education for three decades, including 10 years in Saskatchewan and then 20 years in Prince Edward Island.

"We are at a very complicated time in education, and while things sometimes seem to be very much different, the fundamentals are still the same."

Whitrow also said that while his job path has taken him out of the classroom, he strives to never lose touch.

"When you are a principal you don't get quite as connected to kids as you do when you are a teacher," he said.

'Education kind of drew me out'

But the love of teaching and learning never changes, he said.

"I get great joy from watching kids and teachers talk," he said.

Whitrow said he started out planning to be a carpenter, "but the world of education kind of drew me out of trades work and more [into] working with people — and then eventually into being a leader in schools."

Through all his years in education his goal is inclusiveness, respect and caring.

"There's always that sense of awareness that you try to treat everybody's kids as your own kids."