On October 18th, Eye On The Storm interviewed J. Clarke Richardson’s new principal, Mr. Maharaj. Mr. Maharaj, our school’s fourth principal since opening in 2001, gave us a more in-depth look at his life and his new job.
How long have you been working for the Durham District School Board?
I think I started in 1999 as a teacher. So, I guess that’s 20 years…actually you know what, 1998 is when I started.
Were you always interested in working in education?
No, I think I came by education just by a habit. When I was younger, I used to have summer jobs working with young people in camps and things like that. And initially, when I went to university, my plan was to become a doctor, but that changed into becoming a chiropractor. Then I didn’t get in when I first graduated, but I applied to teacher’s college as a backup plan. That’s how I ended up in education and I really enjoy being an educator.
How did you become the principal for this school?
Well, after being a teacher for quite a while, I became a vice principal. I was a vice principal for Pine Ridge, Dunbarton and Eastdale for a little bit. Then I became the principal for Eastdale and I was the principal there for the last three years. Eventually, [the DDSB] asked me if I was interested in coming to J Clarke because it was a bigger school and more in the area I worked in.
What is your vision for the school?
Wow, that’s a big question! To me, I want to see our school be a place where students come and fulfill their potential and pursue their own personal excellence. That looks different for every person, but I really want to encourage the students to not settle to just get by, do the best that they can do so, when they leave for college, university, the world of work or into a trade, they are very prepared. Also, that they realize what pathway they’re on early in their high school career so they can work towards all that.
What does your average workday look like at the school?
I probably get here around 7:40-7:45. I usually check my messages, I probably in a day get 100 emails so it takes me a long time to get through them all. Then I check my phone messages, talk with the secretaries and vice principals. Once the bell goes, I’m out in the hallways helping supervise and often between all that, I’ve got to meet with parents, teachers, students, and vice principals. I often go to meetings, I do a lot of meetings outside of the buildings as well as inside the building. I try to manage the day that way. When the school day ends, I’m usually here till 4:30-5:00 trying to get things organized for the following day.
What do you do for free time on weekends?
That doesn’t exist, I am a parent. Because I’m a parent, my kids’ schedules come first and mine will come second. Usually, I am driving them to games and practices. I do help out in coaching my daughter’s basketball team. I also referee basketball and I try to get in as many games as I can. When I’m not doing any of that, I like to spend time with my friends.
Do you have any hobbies?
I wouldn’t say I have a hobby per say. I think there are things I like doing. As I said, I enjoy officiating basketball, up until this year I was a head coach for a basketball team. I’m taking a step back now and not doing that. I try to keep up with my family life.
Is there anything else you want students to know?
I am a die-hard Toronto Raptors fan. I’m a season ticket holder and go to a lot of games.