Darryl Bazylak takes over as Director of Education for Prairie Spirit School Division
- Sophia Lagimodiere
The new Director of Education for Prairie Spirit School Division is Darryl Bazylak, a Métis-Polish educator.
The long-time administrator with the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Division, made the switch in August.
“I’ve got about a year and a half, and I could retire and look to do something else. But I love kids, and I love working with communities and parents,” he said.
He isn’t finished working in education, or what he calls “the most valuable resource that we possess in this world.”
The Prairie Spirit division is like a doughnut around Saskatoon, encompassing 47 schools, approximately 11, 500 students, with an office in Warman. The director focuses on school operations and works with the political arm.
Bazylak doesn’t overlook students who don’t fit the cookie-cutter mould of the school system, but focuses on addressing the challenges of students in need, which he says is often related to poverty and which many self-declared Indigenous students experience.
“I’ve always been drawn, as a proud Métis-Polish person, to try to close that gap,” he said. “If there is something that made me feel as though I’ve personally failed at, it’s to make enough ground with that. Although, it’s a big mountain to climb.”
He encourages students to reach out for help, pointing to companies that offer support, such as hiring self-declared Indigenous students, people in poverty, women, and people with disabilities.
“It’s such a journey, and there’s lots of help. There are lots of support (and) there are lots of role models. There needs to be more, but there is more and more every day,” he said. “If you look around, there are supports.”
“Reach out and work hard and things will come together,” he said.
Bazylak is optimistic despite the challenges the pandemic has put on schools, recognizing that the silver lining has been the opportunity for positive change.
Prairie Spirit has been creative during the pandemic, offering options for homebound students to use technology or to go technology-less, by dropping off some materials to them.
“We’re trying to cover all the bases, but that’s all relatively new due to COVID. But we always had students who needed something a little bit different, and why not try to provide that?” he said.
Bazylak followed in the footsteps of his mother and other family members when he chose a career in education. He especially enjoyed working with primary-aged students.
“They’re so innocent, they’re so mouldable, and they can teach you so much if you’re open to that,” he said.
“I like to say I was like their grandparent too. I would go into the classroom and rile them up a little bit and then leave.”
When he’s not working, Bazylak spends time with family: wife, Tracy, daughter Alora and stepson Brandon. His father passed away 13 years ago and his mother lives in Saskatoon. His parents grew up in Duck Lake and he visits family or the shrine there. He loves to golf and fish. Since Alora was eight, they have kept a tradition of taking a father-daughter fishing trip with friends.