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Delaronde to leave Education Center 

After 36 years with KEC, Robin Delaronde will be retiring after the next school year. File photo

After 36 years with the Kahnawake Education Center (KEC), director of education Robin Delaronde announced her impending retirement this week, which will come at the end of the 2024-25 school year.  

“I felt it was time to go on and enjoy my first family – I consider the KEC to be my second family,” said Delaronde. “It’ll be an adjustment to leave and do other things, but the KEC is in a really good place and is very stable.” 

Delaronde decided to announce her retirement a year in advance to give KEC the opportunity to make the transition as smooth as possible. She intends to spend the next school year mentoring the incoming director of education, who she hopes could be hired by the end of summer. 

“Having begun in 1988 as an educator myself, I’ve been so fortunate to have been mentored and to have seen leadership at that time really fight for their vision and what people wanted from their education,” she said. “Whether it was grassroots with the parents and their advocacy, or in leadership and previous directors who had such a passion to make education our own, it’s really dear to my heart.” 

The mentorship Delaronde benefited from is something she hopes to pass down to the next person at the helm of KEC.  

“I really want to make sure that whoever is the next director is really well prepared to carry this on. The history is so important to KEC and it can never be forgotten, so there’s a lot of important aspects and considerations that need to go into mentoring a new director,” she said. “It’s a unique position, so I wanted to make sure that a full year is dedicated to supporting that individual.” 

Delaronde has seen a lot of immense changes over the years and has led the KEC through difficult waters, Bill 96 and its implications for Kahnawake’s students concerning the French language and the COVID-19 pandemic being just a couple of the most recent challenges.  

“All of these challenges resulted in growth and learning. Taking the school system and our community through COVID and having to maneuver and develop a whole new platform for education was a challenge, but building that capacity is one of the highlights,” she said.  

The posting for a new director will go up in June, and candidates will be sought both internally and externally. 

“I hope the next person is able to build upon what is there, to continue to not lose that focus and what the mission is of our schools,” she said. “We’re looked at as a model for education across Canada, so I want them to carry that pride and bring that forward, to continue to empower our students and our youth with the knowledge of who they are and what they want to be in this world.” 

Delaronde said she’s been considering retirement for the past couple of years, but that she wouldn’t necessarily count out future opportunities in education once she does say goodbye to KEC. 

“I still feel like I have a lot to contribute to some projects or initiatives with education if they feel they could utilize my services. I’m going to be resting, taking care of myself and my family, but I’m not done with education,” she said.  

For many at KEC, Delaronde’s retirement is bittersweet. KEC’s associate director of education Iakowennaiéwas Falen Jacobs said that she’ll miss Delaronde’s leadership but that she’s happy that she can finally take a break after 36 years of service. 

“I was very happy for her. I know this was not a decision that she took lightly, and she strategically planned her retirement at a time of great stability, leadership capacity, growth, and support within the KEC,” Jacobs said. “She is completely deserving of this next chapter in her life and all of the exciting possibilities it may bring.” 

Jacobs said that Delaronde has been a big factor in KEC’s current stability. 

“She has always stood out as a focused and goal-oriented leader who strives to meet the needs of our students and community,” she said. “She is an inspiration to so many and we are fortunate to have had her solid leadership and perseverance over the years.” 

The idea of Delaronde mentoring the next director of education is reassuring, Jacobs said, and sets a strong foundation for KEC’s success well into the future.  

“My hope is that the KEC will continue to bring the community’s vision for Kahnawake’s education to life through a collective and forward-thinking approach that will provide the best learning opportunities and programs for all of our students and their varying needs,” she said.  

Though saying farewell will be difficult, Delaronde said she’s proud of the legacy she’ll leave behind at KEC.  

“It was challenging even when I took on the role as director at the beginning, but there were so many people there who had been supportive along the way, and I just want to thank everybody who had a part in making my job fulfilling,” she said. 

A job posting for Delaronde’s current role will be published on KEC social media in the coming weeks. 

evedcable@gmail.com 

This article was originally published in print on May 24 in issue 33.21 of The Eastern Door.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.