O Canada

This week, talk centred around tragedy. Our country, a country where we pride ourselves on peace, somehow felt a little more vulnerable. Our sense of security and safety were compromised.

Perhaps we are naive. Perhaps we have been so fortunate to live in this country, that we forget the daily struggles faced by so many in other parts of the world. The incidents that occurred in Montreal and Ottawa occur daily in many countries. It is big news here precisely because of our belief that we are immune to this kind of violence.

Despite a little shake up, I remain thankful to live in a country where there is not a gun in every home, militia parading the streets or children recruited as soldiers. The shake up serves as a reminder of how fortunate we are to be able to trust our police, to vote, to walk the dog, to go to school and work each day without the threat of violence. Just ask one of many immigrants who have lived the realities of violence, war and mistrust.

And though we practice lock-downs in our schools, I say to our students, “The chance of something happening is very small, but it’s better to be prepared.” The best part is, I don’t say it simply to reassure the students, I say it because I believe it.

“God keep our land, glorious and free!” 

Lifelong Learning

When I think about synergy and collaboration, I think about our school. There are good things happening within. I am proud to say that we do not sit by and become stagnant. We do not stay rooted in tradition ignoring the change occurring around us. Not at all.

At our school we push the status quo. We test and try, assess and reassess. We reflect on what we’re doing and strive for greatness. We work for the best interest of each child entrusted to our care.

Students today are different than students of the past. If we don’t change along with them, we are doing them a disservice. We provide opportunities for learning and leadership, we forgive mistakes and we continue to learn ourselves to ensure the best learning for our students.

Are we perfect? We can’t be. Will there be missteps along the way? We wouldn’t be human if there weren’t.

We entered this profession to change lives. To inspire and uplift. To educate and motivate. What a privilege!

Many Thanks

The other day I watched a TedTalk by David Steindl-Rast about gratitude: how living with gratitude leads to greater happiness. It got me thinking about this whole business of ‘home.’

I was once of the mindset that my house should be bigger, newer and fancier than it currently is. Upon reflection though, I wonder why I ever thought this. It is not because I don’t like my home. I do. It is certainly not because I need a bigger home. What would I do with more space, after all? So why then? Our society conditions us that bigger, newer and fancier is also better. As if that bigger, newer, fancier house will lead to greater happiness.

And yet (despite the size of my home), on this Thanksgiving weekend, I find it effortless to create a list of things I am thankful for… 

I am thankful for staff members who go above and beyond for our students. I am thankful for our dedicated parent volunteers. I am thankful for the innocence and honesty of children. I am thankful for the sunshine. I am thankful for the tree across the street with vibrant orange leaves.  I am thankful for the opportunity to write. I am thankful for the time with my family, especially the wee ones and those getting on in years. And yes, I am thankful for my home and those within it.

Integrity

I just finished reading The Invention of Wings. It is fiction, yet fiction rooted in truth about an American woman striving for the abolition of slaves in the early 1800s. Because of her beliefs – vastly different from the societal norm at the time – she alienates herself from her family and puts her safety at risk. Her story is juxtaposed by the story of one of the slaves working for the family. Both women’s stories are heartbreaking and yet hopeful, too.

This book got me thinking about courage. And I wonder… how many people questioned or even abhorred the use of slaves but stayed silent? How many in our society today have the courage to speak their minds against the status quo?

I think of a sign in my office (passed down from a principal I admire greatly) that says, “Stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone.”

I would like to think that I have the courage to stand up for what I believe in. I would hope that I inspire children to do the same. I strive to be a person of integrity who means what she says and says what she means. Someone who values individuals: their stories, their backgrounds, their distinctiveness. Someone who stands up for what is right, even if I happen to be standing alone.

I am, most definitely, a work in progress.