A Woman Who Walks With Purpose: Mrs. Jenny Canar

A Woman Who Walks With Purpose: Mrs. Jenny Canar

Mrs. Jenny Canar is a very highly motivated person. Every morning I see her at school, walking with confidence, smiling big to everyone, beaming with positivity and energy. It was a sunny Monday morning, when I was interviewing her, listening to her saying that “There is ALWAYS a way.” My hope here is that we all learn to be “fearless optimistics.”

Jenny Canar is Elementary School Principal at the American International School of Riyadh.

Jenny, could you please tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in a very small town in Chicago. I was always a very studious student and I ALWAYS wanted to work with kids. I started at the University of Iowa, and then I transferred to Illinois State University, graduated from there and did my student teaching in England in Brighton University.

I taught in the States for three years. My first international experience as a teacher was in Berlin, Germany, for two years. Then I had another two years of teaching experience in the International school of Indonesia.

I started my Masters through a college in New Jersey which had a satellite program in Majorca, Spain and I completed my Masters there, while I was working at Shanghai International American School. It was there that I met Dr. Brain Matthews, who is currently our superintendent. It was meeting him and having him as a professor for a class on supervision, when I started thinking about moving to Riyadh. I’ve been here now for six years. I started as the assistant principal, and have been the principal for the past five years. I love everything we do here. So I think I’ll be here for a while.

What have been your challenges as a principal?

As a principal, one of the initial challenges that I faced was definitely building relationships. When I became the principal, my first mission was to keep the trust built by the principal prior to me, intact.  Our school had already established itself as a wonderful learning community and I wanted to ensure that the reputation continued.

I met with parents because I wanted them to understand that here is a person who is very serious about her job and very serious about wanting an environment for children to learn and to grow and be happy.

When you’re working with adults with different cultures and working with children who carry those same cultural differences you must have TOLERANCE and you must be accepting. Here, I’ve learned some knowledge of PATIENCE, so what WAS a challenge in the beginning, ended up making me become a better person.

 What do you consider to be your strengths?

I have this attitude that there is always a way. There is always a way to solve a problem and there is always a way to make something better.

And I am NOT afraid of challenges. In order to really have an organization grow, you need to be constantly prepared to make changes. And sometimes those changes create some hardships. I want to make sure that everyone is armed with what they need in order to be successful, and when we have a little roadblock, I want that roadblock to be dealt with swiftly and painlessly.

I consider myself to be very enthusiastic. I’d say that my most unique quality is my very high level of ENERGY, which always motivates me. I don’t tire easily and this quality helps me a lot in leading the elementary school forward.

What does success mean for you, Jenny?

There is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson which I tend to repeat to myself and it’s the definition of success also for me:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

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