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Peter Sturrup

Updated: May 31, 2023

Newmarket Honouree 2022

From 1995 to 2022, Peter Sturrup was the Head of School of Pickering College, a coeducational, kindergarten to grade 12, day and boarding school—and Canada’s only Quaker-founded school—located in Newmarket, Ontario. Among many other significant contributions, Peter has been an instructor at the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) Leadership Institute and Head’s Retreat since 2009, served on the Board of CAIS, and as Chair of the Standards Council. Peter has also held the roles of Coaching Trainer and Consultant to the RAVSAK (New York) Head of School Professional Excellence Project, board member of the Inn From the Cold homeless shelter, and Chair of the Newmarket Celebrates the Arts Bursary Committee.

An unforgettable experience for Peter was being involved in the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life at Pickering College. He contributed on every level: on the organizing committee, as a volunteer, as a participant, and later, the Honourary Chair of the event for two years. Peter was deeply moved by the many people who walked in the relay, demonstrating incredible strength, courage, commitment, and dedication; all walking to raise money to find a cure; to honour those who continue to fight; to celebrate their own victory over the disease; and to commemorate those who have succumbed to this horrible disease. Those who walk do so to free our lives and our community from the long shadow that cancer casts, and Peter felt compelled to help in any way he could.

Peter believes, as the Quakers do, that there is a divine spark in every human being and, therefore, all human beings have equal worth and dignity. To him, leadership is not about personality, it is about character; it’s not about skills, but actions, distinct, fleeting actions that collectively define our lives and thus become our legacy. It is not about rules, it is about relationships, like extending a hand or heart at the right moment to someone in your presence.

While 2020 and 2021 were the most challenging years of Peter’s professional career due to the pandemic, they have also brought to the fore everything that his twenty-five-year tenure taught him: simplifying goals, prioritizing values, communicating with openness and transparency, consensus decision-making, asking questions, expressing gratitude, recognizing people, being compassionate, and, while never giving up hope, being realistic as well.

Given the circumstances and effects of the pandemic, particularly in the field of education, and although still seeking balance in the midst of it, Peter emphasizes that all the work he has done during this time has been the most meaningful. And like what has sustained many of us during these times, he is tremendously grateful for family: his lovely wife, Lisa, of over forty years, three wonderful grown sons, and three beautiful grandchildren.


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