Mr. James Kardash – Mayfield Secondary School Principal e-mail response with respect to former Principal and Award Photos
When I was asked by Pat Rossell in Nov. of 2015 if I would be interested in going to Mayfield as Principal, I said I would on one condition. That condition was that I would be replaced by a female or a visible minority (term used at that time that I am now uncomfortable with) or both. She asked me why? I explained that Mayfield was the only school in Peel that had been led by all white male Principal’s. Pat was taken back my statement and asked if it was true and how I knew? I said that it has been my observation when I walk through schools. The next day Pat called me back to say that she was shocked to find out I was correct and that I was the last person that she thought would bring that to the Board’s attention. She said she would do what she could to make sure that my condition was respected. I have repeated this conversation with many staff, families and the School Council over the years.
As my time at Mayfield went on it really started to wear on me the first image the community saw when they walked into Mayfield (to lead Mayfield, you had to be a white male). It has particularly bugged me that at a school with typically 1150 -1200 females and 700-750 males that the view of only white male Principal’s was the first impression the students and community saw when they entered the school. What message were we sending to our young female students? I discussed with some of the staff about another location for the pictures (Library, the halls with the Grad composites, etc.). It was decided that the pictures would be put up in the auditorium so they would never miss another performance. The pictures were NOT REMOVED, JUST RELOCATED to another place so they are not the first thing you see when you walk in the building.
At Clarkson to prepare for its 50th a decision was made to reduce the size of some of the existing pictures to make space for future recipients. The originals of those that were reduced were provided at Clarkson’s 50th to the former AOTY winners. Mayfield was supposed to be holding its 50th reunion in May last year (2020). We had 3 walls adorning the Athlete of the Year pictures. At Mayfield we did the same and reduced the size of the pictures of the winners from 1970 – 2000 in preparation for our 50th. The discussion to reduce the size of the photos began with the Dept. Head in 2018. The photography company produced the resized pictures in the fall of 2019 and the new plaqued pictures were put up just prior to the Pandemic. The intention was to present Mayfield’s former winners with their framed original at the reunion.
Both decisions were made long before the Ministry Directives and we were not told to do these by the Board. The decisions were based on messaging and physical space. This is a message that let’s all students and community members know that Mayfield is a school that is respectful of its past and responsive to its current and future populations. We must evolve if we value the voices of all our students.
In the coming years we will need to continue to make similar decisions. The hall down the Phys. Ed. wing is covered with Peel, ROPSSAA, OFSAA champions up to 2016. There is no more space for the winners from the past 5 years and subsequently their photos sit in a cupboard in the P.E. office. Decisions have to be made and they will be made in a respectful manner.