On any given day, you can find Jeff Klinck walking the halls of Huron Heights Secondary School in Kitchener greeting his students and sharing a laugh or two with his staff. His work as a principal and devoted leader has caught the attention of his educators Kim Clegg, Jennifer Diebolt, and Jamie Reaburn, who all nominated him to be one of our WRDSB 2020 Champions.

“Since coming to our school [in January 2018], he has been a rock for the Huron community,” Reaburn wrote in her nomination. “And, throughout the COVID-19 closure was no exception.”

During the summer months, Klinck, who has been an administrator since 2004, was part of the Secondary Return to School Committee and spent many hours working on a plan to keep everyone in the WRDSB safe. The impact he had on the decisions made was felt and recognized by his staff.

Diebolt, like many staff, had questions about returning to schools. “But within the first 30 minutes of our staff training, I realized [he and the committee] had thought it all through. I feel so physically safe in this building because of his leadership.”

However, his strong leadership goes beyond navigating a pandemic.

Building an inclusive community and family among his Huskies is an important part of what Klinck strives to do each day, with each decision he makes.

“You have to be willing to listen to your students, to your staff and to your community,” Klinck shares as he reflects on how he leads a high school of more than 1,600 students. “That is the biggest thing I have learned over the years. If you make decisions without those other parties that have a vested interest in that decision, you are really taking a chance as to whether you are going to make one that people appreciate or one that they do not.”

As a principal and current WRDSB Secondary School Principal Association (SSPA) Chair, he sits on many committees, but the one he is most passionate about is the Huron People of Colour (H-PoC) group at his school, which was created based on the feedback he was getting from students and how they felt in the building.

When the group first formed, Klinck told the students, “you need to lead this! We can help you with it, but I can’t tell people what it’s like to be a person of colour.”

Clegg, Diebolt and Reaburn are all staff advisors to the H-PoC group and see the work he puts into listening and learning from his students.

“The kids love him,” says Reaburn and Clegg in sync. “It is because they know that they can come to him with an idea or concern, and he is willing to listen and make something happen,” Clegg further explains.

Before the pandemic, he attended every meeting, and because the school has a double lunch, he would often be the consistent staff member at both meetings.

“Everybody is busy, everybody works hard, but he makes the time to be at H-PoC, every single week,” Diebolt shares of his dedication to his students. “His school community is very important to him.”

When asked what it felt like to be nominated, Klinck was surprised and honoured that his staff thought of him.

“It is very humbling,” he said with a smile but was quick to mention that he likes to make decisions with a team, and it isn’t all because of him. “I don’t feel like I can take credit for much that happens here. It is a result of a bunch of people that are doing a lot of things. We have a great team of staff and administrators that work well together.”

Aside from H-PoC and all the duties a principal handles, Klinck can also be seen in the thick of the activities that go on inside the school building, from staying after school to supervise students paint posters for upcoming events to rocking the drum set at the school’s annual MYART event.

Clegg, Diebolt and Reaburn all joked that he doesn’t sleep, but added that he always greets everyone who walks into the building with a smile, even from behind the mask.

“We are appreciative that he will be recognized this way,” says Clegg. “There is nobody more deserving than him.”

“He is just a good human,” adds Diebolt.

WRDSB 2020 Champions

It has been a year unlike any other in public education. All that we have achieved together as the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) would not have been possible without the individual contributions of our staff to support our students, staff and community.

We’ve received hundreds of nominations for WRDSB 2020 Champions from our internal campaign. We will be sharing a selection of these stories with our community in the lead-up to the winter break to help end the year on a bright note of positivity in a year when these are too few and far between. Join us by sharing these stories and more on social media with #ShareTheGood.