Overview Building Features Grade JK-6 Grade 7-12

Dr. David Suzuki Public School

The origins of Dr. David Suzuki Public School can be traced to an accommodation study carried out by then Superintendent of Education Steve Snider, which recommended the consolidation of two area schools, Princess Anne and Concord Public Schools. Mr. Snider worked collaboratively with the school communities on this merger, which was approved by the Trustees on February 2nd, 2005.

This set in motion further work by Superintendent Snider and Superintendent of Business Penny Allen as they developed a rationale and business plan for the Ministry of Education.  Approval was received in the fall of 2005 to build a standard school building to house the combined populations of Concord and Princess Anne Public Schools.

In other school projects during this same time period, the Greater Essex County District School Board had utilized a new school development process which included, among other elements, the identification of a broad-based educational theme to be considered as plan for the building was developed.  Given the history of both Princess Anne and Concord Schools of a focus on environmental education, retired Superintendent of Program Rod Peturson suggested the theme of “Earth Keepers” for this new school development in east Windsor.

Mr. Peturson then suggested that the Greater Essex County District School Board approach the Ministry of Energy about the possibility of developing this new school as a demonstration site for innovative energy efficient technologies.  Mr. Peturson and Superintendent Snider travelled to the Ministry of Energy offices at Queen’s Park in Toronto to frame the vision of such a demonstration site for government officials.

The Greater Essex County District School Board had identified Windsor architect Greg McLean and Associates to design the new school. Mr. McLean and his firm had done a number of projects for the school board, most notably the new General Brock Pubic School in west Windsor and Lakeshore Discovery School, which opened in the winter of 2006. Mr. McLean had demonstrated dynamic creativity and an attention to detail that would prove invaluable as this particular new school project evolved.

Dwight Duncan

A meeting with then Minister of Energy and M.P.P. for Windsor-Riverside, the Honorable Dwight Duncan, affirmed the support of the Provincial Government to the concept of a demonstration site for proven and innovative energy and environmental technologies. Mr. Peturson suggested that the school board consider suspending its usual process for naming new schools and Dr. David Suzuki be approached to determine if he would permit the use of his name for this exciting new school project.  Again, with the assistance of Minister Duncan, Dr. Suzuki was contacted and, for the very first time, agreed to have a public building bear his name.

This proved to be highly motivating to the design team for the now named Dr. David Suzuki Public School, and detailed planning began in earnest.

The Trustees for the Greater Essex County District School Board enthusiastically embraced and approved the concept of creating a demonstration site for energy and environmental technologies.

Architect Greg McLean brought the expertise of his firm and a number of the consultants he had worked with on other new building projects.  Designing a new educational facility to such a high standard of energy and environmental efficiency was something that no other architect had done before in Canada.  This required Mr. McLean and his team to spend an extraordinary amount of time not only developing the design for the building, but understanding how each of the various innovative technologies would interact with one another and affect the overall functioning of the entire building.

On the school board planning team, Director of Education Mary Jean Gallagher provided motivation and direction to the process and Superintendent of Business Penny Allen gave guidance around funding for the various stages and elements.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Snider brought his considerable experience as a school Administrator, having been the Principal for the new King Edward Public School and, more recently, the design team for the new Begley, Talbot Trail, Lakeshore Discovery and Essex Public Schools. Among his many contributions, Mr. Snider provided the design team with an understanding of student and site traffic flows, the requirements of school office and administration areas, and the design of specialized teaching areas.

Al Cook, Manager of Facility Services, had spent some time in the Caribbean, working with world-class architects and designers of innovative school buildings. He contributed his years of experience in the maintenance and construction of facilities with exciting insights he developed while working in Grand Cayman.

Guiliana Hinchliffe, Chief Engineer for the school board, brought her considerable expertise and building project management skills to the planning team for Dr. David Suzuki Public School. Having successfully managed the planning, construction and opening of numerous major additions on existing schools and the five most recent new school development projects for the school board, Ms. Hinchliffe provided a significant contribution to the overall look and functionality of Dr. David Suzuki Public School. Ms. Hinchliffe was the person responsible for suggesting that the noteworthy target of LEED® Platinum be the overall goal for the project.

Dr. David Suzuki

Throughout both the design and construction phases, Ms. Hinchliffe was one of the driving forces behind creation of Dr. David Suzuki Public School. She was also the key individual guiding and supporting the development of the Dr. David Suzuki School website, which will prove to be both an invaluable educational tool and a source of inspiration and guidance to new school architects, planners, educational officials and others in the green building movement.

Retired Superintendent of Program, Rod Peturson, developed the plan to design the school around five of Canada’s natural ecosystems along with the overall theme and set out in the winter of 2006 to meet and interview representatives from the dozens of companies and manufacturers that had responded to a national Request for Proposals for innovative Energy and Environmental Technologies to use in this new school demonstration project.

Mr. Peturson worked on securing the donations necessary to fund the addition of the various theme features throughout the building, not to mention figuring out how to have someone design and construct three full-sized whales, two 1.5 metre rotating acrylic globes, six massive landscape images, a specially designed window onto a prairie vista and a Carolinian forest grove to serve as a wall between a hallway and the school’s library. It was Mr. Peturson who suggested that the school board commission a full-scale bronze sculpture of a nine-year-old David Suzuki to illustrate the vision of the school that every environmental champion began as a child exploring our natural world and every child in the school has the potential to become an adult who advocates for the environment.

Interim Director of Education Heather Liffiton and current Director Warren Kennedy brought valuable contributions and insights to the project as the building proceeded from design to reality

Scott Scantlebury, Public Relations Officer for the school board, worked closely with the Principals of Concord and Princess Anne School, along with the staff, students and parents, to celebrate the transition from the existing schools to the new facility.

Beyond the creative vision and guidance of the school board team, and the design skills and attention to detail of Architect Greg McLean, there were a host of individuals, engineering firms, suppliers, manufacturers, trades people and contractors who brought their professional expertise and commitment to innovation to the building of Dr. David Suzuki Public School.

At its time of opening, Dr. David Suzuki Public School will be the first and only educational facility in Canada built to a LEED® Platinum standard. It carries the name of one of the world’s foremost environmental advocates. The team that conceived, designed and built Dr. David Suzuki Public School recognized that the most important factors influencing student success in any school building are the teachers and other educational professionals who deliver the programs and provide support to the learning of the students - and the students who are developing life-long skills, values, attitudes and knowledge. 

The creators of Dr. David Suzuki Public School also recognized that a new educational facility can be more than a place where teaching and learning can take place. It can also inspire learning and become a school where the building teaches too.


Greater Essex County District School Board