Pausing for Gratitude

December 13, 2022

Many of you will know that I am a big football fan, (and an especially big Raider fan). The inspiration for my post this week does not come from Raider Nation, but from the Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith. If you follow the Seahawks, you will know that their Super Bowl winning quarterback, Russel Wilson was traded away and that most pundits thought that with back-up quarterback Smith at the helm, the team would be lucky to win half of their games this year. Fast forward a few months and not only are the Seahawks in the playoff hunt, but their quarterback is among the league leaders in passing. When asked if he has a chip on his shoulder to prove his critics wrong for having languished as a back-up quarterback for so long, Geno responded as follows:

“My tough times would be a dream to someone else.”

He went on to speak about the privilege he has had to play in the NFL for as long as he has, and reflected warmly on his connection with teammates, coaches the fans and what he has learned as an athlete and human being.

Taking my inspiration from Geno Smith, as we approach the Christmas break of this year, I would like to pause to express appreciation for a few things and people with whom I share the amazing opportunity to be a part of the lives of children in this community.

My first point of gratitude is to Mr. Hugh Marshall, my high school teacher and coach who convinced me close to forty years ago that I should be come a teacher because “to whom much is given, much is expected.” I fought against his encouragement for a few years before relenting and have come to accept that he was right. I have never once regretted accepting the calling to become a teacher.

I am grateful for Dr. Robin Arden, now retired superintendent, who had faith in me (much like Mr. Marshall) to provide leadership in the district for the numerous challenges he put before me. From my first position (at Maple Grove) to this one, he has been a wonderful source of encouragement.

I am grateful for the team with whom I work: Ray, Gino, Kat, Michele, Carla, Nathan, Perry, Linda, Dale, Kayla, Karman (and now Monica). It is truly joyful to come to work each day and be in their company as we try to move forward in the service of children. We have fun and get it done. Some of the challenges we face are significant, but when you are in the company skilled caring people that you like it makes the problems seem smaller and the goals more achievable.

I am grateful to work with our school leaders and operations management staff. The last two and a half years have been daunting at times, but I continue to be impressed with your dedication, creativity and resilience, you focus on the “work and not the weather” (I had to get that phrase in there). Your leadership has been a cornerstone of our success.

I am also thankful for the many teachers and support staff in our schools who are the “pointy end” of our mission: working closely with students. Again, you have been the main reason we have navigated the most difficult challenge our education system has faced in over a century.  You are the heroes of our system, and I am grateful that I get to witness the work you all do to uplift our children and our very society though your heroic efforts.

I am also grateful to work in a profession where I can have some more focussed time with family and friends over the next few weeks, when we can take the time and reflect on the many wonderful things that make living and working on these lands of the Stolo People so special. As challenging as this fall has been, as exhausting as it has been on some days, I am uplifted by the fact that I get to work for children every day and get to do it in the company of people equally committed to that endeavour.