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MONTREAL, JUNE 2, 2016 - At the end of the present academic year, Raizel Candib, principal of Merton Elementary School, will walk out the doors of the school leaving behind a legacy of love, kindness and academic and personal success. She has spent 47 rewarding years in the field of education.

Ms. Candib began her career in education as a teacher at the former Wagar High School in Côte Saint-Luc. She later took on the administrative roles of vice-principal at Willingdon Elementary School, principal at Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary School and Willingdon, and a four-year term as principal at Bialik High School.

Over the span of her career, Ms. Candib embraced the evolution of the field of education, from the use of technology in the classroom to robotics, and child-centered care. Under her direction, the Merton community has grown, adapted, and thrived.

No matter what changes have come into play, Ms. Candib stands firm on two essential ingredients that ensure a student’s success and happiness at school: “Children need to be loved and respected. Always. That never changes.” 

According to Ms. Candib, in the 1960s and 70s, there was less concern about the high school dropout rate as jobs were attainable. The advent of technology significantly decreased the abundance of commercial jobs. “It’s become very important to make sure that graduating students have skills for a variety of job markets,” explained Ms. Candib. “We don’t just graduate students at age 14, which was the case when I taught high school and jobs were available.”

Throughout her career, Ms. Candib has seen educators become more sensitive to students’ needs, ensuring their success both academically and personally. “We’ve become aware of how children learn differently,” she added. “We’ve been fortunate to see support services come into place that weren’t there before.”

Ms. Candib attributes much of this to the advancements in the science of the brain and how it works to the heightened awareness and support of students of all learning abilities.

In her role as principal, Ms. Candib maintained an open door policy. She read and commented on every report card, and nurtured close relationships with her students, their families, and her staff, who she describes as very special and caring. She encouraged educators to raise the bar, because, in her experience, students love to be challenged and can do more than we expect.

“The way Romolo Finelli has run the gym program has helped to contribute to the child-centered aspect of the school,” she said. “ Children do not compete against each other. They compete against themselves.”

Lessons can be learnt from Ms. Candib’s 47 years in the field of education. She encourages educators to speak their mind when necessary, to not be afraid to take on a leadership role or to ask questions, to empower one another and the students, to remain flexible, be loving, warm and caring, and to not be afraid of tough love.”

Mrs. Candib looks forward to an active retirement, which will include volunteering at the Jewish Public Library, and indulging in her love of history. She currently trains guides at The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, and will lead tours herself. She plans to take up piano once again in hopes of mastering Chopin’s waltzes, delve into ballet and folk dance, and travel. A multi-faceted person, Ms. Candib’s activities outside of school hours, including being a mother, wife, and friend, have always complemented her work, and vice versa. “All the various things that you are contribute to who you are at work,” said Ms. Candib.

When asked for words of advice to share with her peers as her retirement approaches, Ms. Candib emphasized the importance of parent involvement in their child’s life and school. “I tell parents that you have to tell your kids you love them all the time,” she said.  “The last words you want them to hear is I love you. It’s amazing what that does for a child. You can fly to the moon when somebody loves you unconditionally.”

Ms. Candib will retire knowing that she has made a tremendous difference in many students’ lives, particularly in times when interventions were needed. “You have to stick your neck out. I don’t believe in being the bystander,” she said. “History has taught us.”

Ms. Candib takes pride in the fact that many of the students she taught at Wagar are now Merton parents. A walk through the hallways of the school clearly indicate a career in celebration, with walls covered in colourful posters that bear wishes to Mrs. Candib on her retirement. When asked what aspect of her career she is most proud of she pauses to think, responding: “All of it. There is so much. Merton is a wonderful school. It’s a good place for children.”

Commissioner for Ward 4 of   Côte Saint-Luc and Hampstead Bernard Praw refers to Ms. Candib as the consummate professional. “Raizel is dedicated to the nth degree,” he said.  “She cares deeply for her students and makes sure that they and the school have everything they need. She deserves a wonderful retirement after her 47-year career. She will be missed at Merton and the EMSB.”

Merton Elementary School has begun to transition its leadership into the competent hands of Rosanna Caplan, whom Ms. Candib is confident will do an excellent job.

Ms. Caplan comes to Merton from Roslyn Elementary School  in Westmount where she has acted as vice-principal for four years. “Mrs. Candib was a mentor to me in introducing me to the EMSB in the same way that she is now introducing me to her school, “shared Ms. Caplan. “We’ve discussed many topics and our approaches to education are very similar in many areas.”

Thrilled to be coming to Merton, Ms. Caplan appreciates all that Ms. Candib has done to enrich the school over the last 13 years. “I am grateful to her for the generous welcome I have received, and for making the transition so smooth I look forward to supporting the staff and the continued growth of the school to the best of my ability,” said Ms. Caplan.  “I plan to work my heart out for them. The staff have told me how much they love Ms. Candib. She is leaving very big shoes to fill.”

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213