Superintendent of Schools and Chief Executive Officer
Gord Atkinson was appointed Superintendent of Schools and Chief Executive Officer effective September 1, 2016. Atkinson began his education career in northern Alberta in 1990 as a teacher with East Smoky School Division. He successively held positions of Technology Coordinator, Director of Technology, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Director of Instructional Services, Assistant Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent with Northern Gateway Public Schools. Prior to joining NSD, Gord served as Associate Superintendent – Learning Services with Wild Rose School Division. His education career has been spent primarily working in small rural communities which included collaborative work with First Nations and Métis students, parents, and community members. During his time at Northern Gateway Public Schools, Gord supported the efforts to establish an outreach school in Valleyview to address the needs of First Nation students. He also spent six years in the private sector as a National Manager of Safety Training. Gord has a strong practical background in educational leadership. He has a Bachelor of General Studies degree, a Bachelor of Education degree from Brandon University and a Master of Business Administration (Executive Management - Education Administration) degree from Royal Roads University. Atkinson is committed to a collaborative and transparent approach to decision making and is “student centered” in his approach to education. Atkinson and his wife Tracy have 2 daughters. He believes in and understands the importance of family.
Area 1 (West) Associate Superintendent
Shelley Willier returned to the Northland family in May, 2017. Willier has been involved in education for over 25 years in various roles. She spent 16 years as a teacher and principal, two years as Director of Education for Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, Assistant Superintendent at NSD and fives year with Alberta Education. As Area 1 Associate Superintendent, Shelley is responsible for ensuring proper supports are in place for: Paddle Prairie School, Dr. Mary Jackson School (Keg River), Bishop Routhier School (Peavine Métis Settlement), Gift Lake School, Hillview School (East Prairie Métis Settlement), Grouard Northland School, Susa Creek School, Little Buffalo School, Peerless Lake School and Kateri School (Trout Lake). Shelley obtained a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta (U of A) in 1991 and in 2009 she completed a Masters of Education from U of A with a focus on Indigenous People’s Education.
Area 2 (Central) Associate Superintendent
Nancy joined the Northland family on September 1, 2017. Spencer-Poitras brings 30 years of experience as an educator and administrator to the jurisdiction. Recently, she served as Director of Leadership Services for the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) and on the Board of Governors of Olds College. Nancy’s career in education began after obtaining a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Alberta (U of A) in 1981. She became principal at Edmonton Public Schools in 1996 where she worked with multiple stakeholders to deliver education programs for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. In 2007, Nancy completed a Masters of Education in Administration and Leadership from the U of A and was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Buffalo Trails School Division (BTSD). Following two years of service at BTSD, Spencer-Poitras continued her senior leadership journey at Grande Yellowhead Public School Division (GYPSD). While working at GYPSD as an assistant superintendent, she helped develop and implement assessment for First Nations, Métis and Inuit education. As Associate Superintendent, Spencer-Poitras is responsible for providing leadership, support, developing relationships and partnerships with school communities located in Area 2. Those schools include: Calling Lake School, Chipewyan Lake School, Career Pathways School (Wabasca-Desmarais), Mistassiniy School (Wabasca-Desmarais), Pelican Mountain School (Sandy Lake), and St. Theresa School (Wabasca-Desmarais).
Area 3 (East) Associate Superintendent
Tim's career in education has come full circle. He began his career at Kateri School (Trout Lake) 28 years ago. Before joining NSD as Area 3 Associate Superintendent, he served as a Senior Manager with Alberta Education. While working as a Senior Manager for Alberta Education, Tim supported NSD through many programs such as the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Community Based Teacher Education Program, the Northland Teacher Induction Program, Supporting Beginning Teachers Program and the Northern Student Teacher Bursary. As Area 3 Associate Superintendent, Stensland is responsible for ensuring proper supports are in place for NSD schools located in: Athabasca Delta Community School (Fort Chipewyan), Anzac Community School, Bill Woodward School (Anzac), Fort McKay School, Father R. Perin School (Janvier), Conklin Community School, Elizabeth School and J.F. Dion School (Fishing Lake Métis Settlement).
Associate Superintendent - Human Resources
Wes has served as Director and Associate Superintendent of Human Resources since 2012. Oginski has been involved in education for 31 years in various roles. He spent 11-years as a teacher and principal, six years as Program and Curriculum Manager at Grande Yellowhead Public School Division, eight years as Director of Learning and Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction at Rocky View School Division and also worked in the curriculum sector at Alberta Education. Wes has a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta and a Master of Art in Administration and Curriculum from Gonzaga University. He’s also in the process of completing a University Human Resources and Labour Relations Certificate.
Trudy has served as Secretary Treasurer of NSD since 2014. Rasmuson brings over 10 years of experience in financial management. Prior to joining NSD, she was vice-president of operations north for Vision Credit Union. She earned a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Trudy holds her Certified Management Accountant designation and is also a Certified Executive Coach. She has been an active volunteer with the Canadian Cooperative Association. She participated in missions to Mongolia and has facilitated workshops through the Women’s Mentorship Program. When Trudy is away from the office, she helps her husband and son operate a 200 head-cow operation just north of Peace River.
Director of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learner Success
Lorraine joined the Northland family as Director of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learner Success in the fall of 2015-2016. Cardinal-Roy is a proud member of Sucker Creek First Nation. She is the mother of four children and a happy grandmother of five grandchildren who range from the ages of two years to twenty-two years old. Throughout her life, Lorraine has exemplified her personal conviction that education is one of the best paths to achieving personal goals and attaining higher socioeconomic status for her people. Her early schooling experiences included attending residential school, catholic and public school systems. Her early experiences only motivated her to seek better ways to balance public education with her ancestral background and a cultural upbringing that stressed the importance of family and giving back. In 1996, Lorraine graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and subsequently accepted a position as a teacher at High Prairie’s St. Andrew’s School where she instructed grades 3 through 12 in the Cree language. During her time serving as a teacher she also worked with Northland School Division contributing to background research and providing regional insights for the development of Cree language resource materials for instructors. In this role she collaborated on the Northland’s Cree Project as a teacher resource person for grades 4, 5 and 6 which resulted in the publication of the Pakan Series 2000. As a forerunner who encouraged the integration of Indigenous culture and language in public schools, Lorraine became increasingly steadfast in her goal to continuously improve herself and work as a team member to influence changes to the way Indigenous children experience education. In 2000, Lorraine returned to University in pursuit of a Master’s Degree in First Nations’ Education. Her thesis focused on maintaining Aboriginal cultural identity and language retention. In her research Lorraine discovered that school conditions can influence learning rates. After graduating in 2002, Lorraine’s career gradually transformed from teaching Cree classes at the university level, to tutoring individuals in the Cree language. She also began working with distance learning programs. She accepted a position as a Senior Education Manager for Alberta Education’s First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Branch. While fulfilling a variety of roles with the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Branch, Lorraine’s vision and passion to make a difference did not waver. Her optimism that solutions were possible grew stronger when she worked as the Executive Secretary with the Northland Inquiry Team. In this role, she traveled with the inquiry team to all twenty-three communities in the Northland School Division. There she listened to narratives from community leadership, teachers, educational assistants, Elders, parents, students and community members as they described their struggles, regional concerns and hopes for the future of education. She then joined the Northland Community Engagement Committee where she took part in the development of the Northland Community Engagement Framework. These experiences proved to Lorraine that collaboration and communication between community and schools, infusion of language and culture in curriculum is integral to student success. In her observation, it became increasingly clear that First Nation and Métis learner success occurs in schools that provide positive, culturally sensitive climates where Indigenous families trust the teachers, where teachers have faith in their students and where students have confidence in themselves. To achieve this end, Lorraine believes it is important to reach out to the communities where Northland School Division students live and to collaborate with school officials, staff and community leaders and members to develop a viable approach that includes opportunities for increased communication and parental participation.
Director of Student Services
In addition to over 17 years with the Division, Stephanie brings compassion and commitment for students as Director of the Student Services Department. Her educational background has strong underpinnings in the areas of psychology, exceptionalities, and special education. She graduated from Mount Allison University with a Bachelor of Arts. This was followed by a Bachelor of Education from St. Francis Xavier University. Her latest degree is a Masters of Education in Inclusive Education from Acadia University. As Director of Student Services, she is dedicated to providing an inclusive, quality education for all students. Inclusion, wellness, and quality programming are at the heart of all her work. Stephanie is happily married and has a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Duke.