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Lifelong learner moving on to next chapter

By Don Fennell

Published 2:31 PDT, Fri June 18, 2021

After three decades as an educator, Wendy Lim retires from the Richmond School District

Pulling into the parking lot at J.N. Burnett Secondary in her 1983 Trans Am, Wendy Lim made quite a first impression.

But it pales in comparison to the impact she had over the next 37 years as a public educator.

In a single word: “inspiring.”

As a teacher, and later administrator at the district level, her presence was felt everywhere, and by everyone she met. Armed with an infectious enthusiasm for learning, she soaked up every opportunity, and just as comfortably passed on a belief that anything was possible.

Lim retired recently from the Richmond School District—but only to begin a new chapter in her life that will be filled with the same energy and impact. She plans to continue her daily two-hour walks and to create a family cookbook, is keen to learn to play the ukulele, go sailing, and volunteer. And, of course, spend more time with her family.

A lifelong quest for learning began as a precocious child, and picked up steam as a high schooler at Templeton where Lim graduated in 1978 with the all-around student award. Countless more awards and accolades would follow. However, her path to becoming an educator herself was a diversion from another passion: science, having first earned a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at UBC.

Colleagues—past and present, friends, and even former students recently extended heartfelt congratulations during an emotional online tribute. Offering his best wishes, Superintendent Scott Robinson shared his disappointment that the celebration could not be held in person.

Describing her as “perhaps the most relentlessly enthusiastic person I’ve ever known,” retired superintendent Bruce Beairsto noted the constant support and encouragement she extended to everyone.

“I don’t remember you taking on any assignment that you didn’t complete with enthusiasm or tackle with success,” he said.

“They say good leaders leave more behind them, and I don’t think anyone is leaving more leaders behind them than you. And your best years are still ahead of you.”

Describing his long-time friend and colleague as the Energizer Bunny, Glenn Kishi said Lim simply makes people better.

“I will always remember the student leadership conferences,” he said. “Planning was probably the most fun. We had some outstanding speakers and programs. And then when we moved to Saturdays, we drew 650 kids and knocked the doors off. It was just magic.”

Kanwal Neel, who also taught alongside Lim for many years, provided a unique tribute by matching the letters of her name with appropriate words.

“Starting with W, we are grateful for your gift of wisdom and wish you the gift of wellness,” he began. “E is for your enthusiasm and we wish you enjoyment in your retirement.”

A recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence, DiAnne Simonson noted her and Lim’s personal and professional lives have crossed many times over, since first meeting at Tumbleweed Daycare which their children attended.

“You have always been an inspiration and leader. You always motivate others by giving from your heart, while sharing your knowledge and passion. You raised the bar for the Richmond School District on how to approach education.”

Richmond RCMP also awarded a plaque to Lim recognizing her efforts toward the DARE program. The presentation was made by Cpl. Adam Carmichael.

Lim was overwhelmed by the love her friends and colleagues have extended to her.

“I’m touched by your presence. Please know you are the reason I loved every single minute. Thank you for the gift of our awesome relationships,” she said.

Lim said one of her proudest moments was in March 2018, when the district adopted an updated mission and values statement, which she was instrumental in drafting. Following extensive consultation, including with students and parents, Policy 100 emerged from 274 pieces of feedback, with the new statement being “the Richmond School District is the best place to learn and lead” while cultivating a safe, accepting and engaging community that inspires a passion for lifelong learning.

“Through our work we touched the future. What a beautiful privilege,” said Lim.

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