Joe Heslip Appointed as New Associate Superintendent of Schools and Lelaina Jules appointed Assistant Principal of Indigenous Education

Comox Valley Schools is very pleased to be welcoming Joe Heslip and Lelaina Jules into two new roles that will perform vital work for our school community.

Introducing Joe Heslip, Associate Superintendent of Schools

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Joe Heslip as the new Associate Superintendent of Schools, a visionary educational leader poised to guide our district towards a future of inclusivity and excellence. Joe brings a wealth of experience and passion for education, particularly in the areas of Indigenous education and educational leadership, that will be invaluable to our district.  With a profound understanding of Indigenous relations, including a deep understanding of land, culture, history, ceremony, and spirit, Joe embodies the values necessary to walk in two worlds and advance our moral imperative to remove the systemic barriers and cultural biases that have historically hindered Indigenous learner academic success and overall well-being.  In acknowledging the impact of colonial structures, Joe recognizes the importance of collaboration with and guidance from, Indigenous partners, rights holders, and elders.

Joe comes to us after an accomplished career in educational leadership and administration. He has served as Project Lead Field Liaison for the British Columbia Ministry of Education and Child Care, where he was instrumental in leading the Equity in Action Project across 60 school districts and five independent school associations. Joe has developed strong and lasting working relationships with numerous Indigenous communities, administrators, staff, students and stakeholders while leading the journey of embracing Indigenous ways of knowing and being.  Through his innate relational practices and skills at systems change, Joe has assisted districts in the transformation of education, with the goal of improving outcomes for all children by creating more inclusive and culturally responsive learning environments.  His collaborative leadership style has built lasting connections in communities while inspiring many staff and students.

His previous roles include District Principal of Indigenous Education and Vice-Principal at Hatzic Middle Secondary School, where he was known for fostering supportive and inclusive learning environments. He also led the Siwal Si’wes Indigenous Department in Mission School District, where he advocated for cultural inclusivity and equitable learning opportunities. Joe is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Western University, and holds a Masters of Education (M.Ed.) in Leadership and Counselling from the City University of Seattle, and a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) in Secondary English and Music from York University. He holds a British Columbia Professional Certificate and is well-versed in guiding curriculum, staff development, and assessment programs.

His vision is to create an environment that empowers staff and students to exercise agency, develop their unique gifts, and pursue continuous improvement. We are confident that Joe will be an excellent addition to the Comox Valley Schools team.  In accepting the role, Joe Heslip said, “I am humbled and honoured to be joining the Comox Valley School District, and I look forward to collaborating with rights holders, stakeholders, and staff to contribute towards an equitable education system for all students whom we serve.”

Please join us in welcoming Joe Heslip to our community. His leadership, vision, and dedication will strengthen our district’s commitment to educational excellence and inclusivity.

Introducing Lelaina Jules as the District Vice Principal of Indigenous Education

We are excited to announce that Lelaina Jules, whose traditional name is ƛ̓akʷapiqa, will be joining Comox Valley Schools as the new District Vice Principal of Indigenous Education. Lelaina brings a wealth of experience in education, particularly in Indigenous education and community engagement, as well as valued lived experiences. Her dedication to culturally responsive education aligns perfectly with our district’s goals and values.

Lelaina holds a Master of Education in Educational Leadership Degree from Vancouver Island University where her work largely focused on equity. Throughout her career, she has worked tirelessly to foster inclusive and supportive learning environments for all. In her previous role as Indigenous Education Curriculum Support Teacher- Secondary, she brought to life curriculum rich in Indigenous ways or knowing, being, and doing — allowing Indigenous students to see themselves reflected in learning and teachings, while at the same time respectfully educating non-Indigenous students and staff.

Her collaborative approach in engaging students, families, community, and educators has been crucial in creating programs that celebrate cultural identity and promote academic success. As a member of the Hesquiaht First Nation, Lelaina is passionate about supporting Indigenous students and all students ensuring their voices are heard and respected.

Her work in our schools has been marked by a strong commitment to inclusive, diverse, and anti-racism pedagogy. Lelaina has a proven track record of advocating for district initiatives that support these principles and has successfully implemented strategies promoting inclusion and equity. Most recently, in collaboration with two senior leaders, K’omoks First Nations members, district Indigenous education principal, and classroom teachers, Lelaina leads the set up of the now annual event inviting all grade 11 students in our school district to experience Kumugwe Big House teachings as part of the newly mandated English First Peoples courses. Lelaina prides herself in meeting educators where they are at in schools while on their collective learning journeys.

In her new role, Lelaina will lead initiatives to strengthen relationships between our schools and Indigenous communities. She will also work closely with staff to integrate Indigenous perspectives into our educational practices, creating a learning environment that celebrates diversity and champions equity.

We look forward to the positive impact she will make and we appreciate the incredible work she is doing for students and in community.

Comox Valley Schools is thrilled to be welcoming both Lelaina and Joe into their new positions. We wish them all the best in their new roles.