Talking with Halifax principal Gord McKelvie restores your faith in the potential for schools to make a difference in the lives of teens in challenging circumstances.

In his 41st year of teaching, McKelvie now heads his former high school, J.L. Ilsley, in Halifax’s hardscrabble suburb of Spryfield.

“It’s a unique and closely-knit community,” he says, “and students here have far more supports than in my day. We know our students and work hard to keep them on track and in school.”

Smaller schools have real advantages, especially at the high school level. With some 670 students from grades 10 to 12, McKelvie’s school is not only the centre of life for Spryfield teens, but the place to access a whole range of support services, such as Schools Plus, the Teen Health Centre and a program called Pathways to Education.

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