Calgary principal named among Top 40 in Canada

Frank Durante doesn't believe in having an open door policy.

Frank Durante from Notre Dame High School and 2 other Calgary principals chosen by The Learning Partnership

Frank Durante is one of three Calgary principals named among the Top 40 in Canada by The Learning Partnership. (Submitted by Frank Durante)

Frank Durante doesn't believe in having an open door policy.

Instead, the Calgary high school principal would rather spend time outside his office, visiting with students and staff.

That's just one of the reasons Durante was named this year as one of Canada's 40 Outstanding Principals by The Learning Partnership.

"I think it's one of the most important things I do daily.… I try to visit every classroom, every day, I try to say good morning to as many students as I can, as many staff as I can," he told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"We need to be outside of our office visiting and talking and building relationships with kids."

Frank Durante says he tries to spend time outside his office talking and visiting with students and staff. (Submitted by Frank Durante)

Having moved recently to Notre Dame High School, the award mainly recognizes Durante's work done leading St. Mary's High School.

"It was a team approach," he said of his success at St. Mary's.

"It was a student-centred approach, just trying to do some things to build our academic achievement up over a five-year period and do some things that are going to support students for anxiety and just provide them with some extra time for learning."

One of the initiatives Durante led was the creation of calming spaces at St. Mary's to help students ensure they are in the right frame of mind.

"A mature space for students just to go before exams or during the day, any time they are feeling a little bit of stress, kids would just get in there, chill out and relax," he said.

"I think we, as adults in the building, want them to know we care about them."

Frank Durante was the public face of St. Mary's School after it was damaged in the 2013 flood. (CBC)

Students aren't the only ones who can feel stressed out by school. Teachers feel pressure, too, said Durante, especially as class sizes increase.

"We need to show them support and provide them with what they need to be successful," he said.

"It's not easy being in a classroom, it's not easy being a teacher nowadays. And the better relationships that administration has with teachers in understanding what they do need, makes for a better classroom environment and therefore makes for better learning and makes for better results for kids."

Durante is one of three Calgary principals to receive the honour this year, along with Norman Martin at Bishop Grandin High School and Patricia Makowski at Christ the King Catholic School.

"Outstanding principals," said Durante.

"Norm is a mentor of mine. I think he's one of the smartest guys in the district."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener