Giffen made Area 5 superintendent

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Simcoe County District School Board educator Michael Giffen has been made superintendent of education for Area 5, which includes elementary and secondary schools in Clearview, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Essa Township.

As a lifelong Glen Huron resident, where he lives on a farm with his wife Kim and three sons, William, Lucas and Jack, Giffen went to Duntroon Public School and Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Some may recognize Giffen as the bass drummer for the Beinn Gorm Highlanders, Scottish pipes and drum band.

His last post was principal at Birchview Dunes Elementary School in Wasaga Beach and prior to that he was principal at Cameron Street Public School, Holly Meadows in Barrie and principal of special education at the board office. He has also been vice principal at Angus Morrison, Mountain View and Worsley. 

Giffen said as superintendent he will work as a member of the school team to move priorities forward and find solutions.

“Supervising and supporting schools is a primary role,” said Giffen.

His portfolio includes student and staff well being, outdoor education, early learning community partnerships and before and after school childcare. 

Giffen said the school board identified well-being as one of its 2017-2022 strategic priorities. It is defined as: Positive sense of self and belonging; safe, healthy, respectful learning and working cultures; and appreciation for environmental practices and outdoor learning. 

He said the idea is to reduce stigma related to mental health and assess the overall tone and feeling of a school, all with the goal of creating an environment where students and staff can succeed. 

When asked why he chose to move away from the classroom and into administration, Giffen said, “I have never left teaching. We are here for the kids and the community, that is our common goal.” 

This way, he said, he is able to work with a “community of schools and with colleagues to affect change with a wider scope, knowing it has a direct link to schools and classrooms.” 

“Regardless of the role and responsibilities as educators, the influence we have on schools and system change is really rewarding to me and the impact is student achievement and success,” said Giffen.  

Part of the superintendent’s job is to deal with issues that arise in the community and Giffen said he plans to be visible and accessible. He looks forward to visiting all the schools in Area 5 and meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

For a full list of Area 5 schools and contact information, visit and click on the board administration tab. 

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