Retirement From PSNM and EMVI: Mission Accomplished for Yves Petit

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As others have said before him, you have “to know when to retire”, says Yves Petit, General Manager of Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie (PSNM) and the École de musique Vincent-d’Indy (EMVI) for the past 12 years. While he is “fully satisfied and fulfilled in his work”, the right time is now, he says, as both schools “are healthy and reaping the benefits of their various recent development projects.”

Appointed in 2003 as Director of Pedagogical Services to replace Kathleen Caissy, now General Manager, Yves Petit fell in love with PSNM and the team. A love that has never wavered. When he replaced Ms. Caissy as General Manager in 2011, he also became General Manager of École de musique Vincent-d’Indy. “I fell in love with the school and all its programs all over again.

This Math teacher, who began his career at Collège Sainte-Anne in Lachine, makes no secret of the fact that he loves the world of education. The means and terms have changed since he first began, but the passion for his work is still very much present.

During his tenure as General Manager, Yves Petit developed his expertise in responding to expressed needs. This has happened without noticing it too much, he says, “because we’re focused on meeting needs. The mission we give ourselves when we work in a school is to be at the service of students, of their learning and their success. We want these young people to be happy. Therefore, we do whatever it takes to make that happen.” Sometimes that means learning new things and moving forward.

One of the skills you need to master quickly in a management position is undoubtedly human resources management. “When we talk about human resources management, it may sound a little depersonalized, but we mustn’t forget that these are people and that each one is a person in his or her own right. We must never treat people as if they were just a group, but rather as unique individuals, each with their own particular needs. You have to take that diversity into account,” he asserts. This kind of management requires a diplomacy that he believes he has developed over the years.

A team legacy

In his mind, the legacy he leaves behind is above all one of teamwork. “You can’t achieve things through the actions of just one person,” says Mr. Petit. For example, it was with the full commitment of the staff that the two schools set up, the Health and Green Horizon plans.

Principal Petit’s initial concern for the health of students and all staff members is at the root of this major achievement. “Today, we really have to be very concerned about the health of everyone in the school. We’re talking about physical health, but also psychological and social health, because students need to develop these aspects. We have to help them in these areas.

Since then, health plans for students and staff have been put in place at both schools. The rise in anxiety, among both young people and adults, reveals the relevance of focusing on overall health. Supporting the idea of those who believe that we shouldn’t remove all anxiety-provoking elements, but rather learn to cope with them; Yves Petit advocates, like many others, promotes a concerted approach and physical activity as the first remedy.

Another major achievement is undoubtedly the Green Horizon plan, which involves all students and staff members. The global approach to sustainable development is reminiscent of the principles already upheld by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) in another era, without using the same terms, of course. The plan covers the environment as well as the fight against poverty, gender equality and other issues.

“Meaningful” gestures for students

Even before his arrival, the two schools were already networking with numerous partners and organizations; from activities with groups helping women on the street to Christmas parties for underprivileged children. This way of doing things continues to expand, and is always meaningful for the students.

1The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) founded the Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie (PSNM) and the École de musique Vincent-d’Indy (EMVI).

Remaining Vigilant

On the eve of his retirement, Yves Petit is confident for both establishments. “Both schools are well developed and healthy. While there are particular challenges for each, in both cases, the quality and diversity of the services offered enable them to “pull their weight”. This does, however, require us to remain vigilant. On that score, he has no fears. “Both schools will be able to count on a great general manager in Antonella Picillo. Picillo, who has been with PSNM for 18 years, is well acquainted with the workings and values of both establishments. “She’ll be up to the challenge,” he adds.

Speaking of SNJM values, Yves Petit feels he has shared them since his arrival at PSNM.

The SNJM’s commitment to women is still evident today, with the PSNM remaining an all-girls school, while many others have gone in new directions.

“Mother Marie-Rose’s mission to educate young girls continues 100% with us,” he adds with a touch of pride, as the first man to head both schools since their foundation. He is convinced of this raison d’être, and of the importance of providing young girls with the means to take their place in society and help them feel valued.

Values Still Very Much Alive

This mission and the SNJM values are well anchored in the environment of both establishments. “The decisions we make on a daily basis are consistent with these values,” says Mr. Petit. In fact, when the staff worked together to identify their values, they found that they shared common values such as benevolence, openness, respect and being rigorous…

And above all, young people integrate them in their own way. This was clear from the many testimonials received from parents at the Secondary 5 graduation ceremony. “Listening to them talk about what their daughters have achieved meets the original objectives and feeds the whole team’s rightful sense of pride,” says the director.

More broadly, in an ever-changing society, “young people teach us, they’ve changed, and often for the better. They are more open and tolerant than the young people of my day. It is wonderful to see that,” says Yves Petit.

A Word to the SNJM’s

Yves Petit feels privileged to have rubbed shoulders with a number of SNJM Sisters, both those working in the schools and on the Leadership Team, and admits that “what emanates from these Sisters is so strong and beautiful that you can’t be deaf and blind to it. No matter what I’m going to do in the future, it’s certain that I’ll carry these same values into my life.”