Moving on…

Back in May, I wrote a post about change.  Read it here.

When I wrote that piece I knew I would be facing a change come the end of the school year.  A transfer to a different school in our district.   I felt I was ready for the change.  However, little could of prepared me for the roller-coaster ride of emotions I found myself on for the final two weeks of June.

At times, it seemed as though everything was moving in slow motion.  I could not figure out the new timetable/schedule.  With our school housing a separate Sports Academy program our schedule is complicated.  It took me days longer than it had taken me in the past.  I would sit and stare at it, no answers coming.

Most of the time though, I felt like things were moving at a hyper-speed.  Year end meetings, meetings for students, interviewing new teachers and new students.  There were also final meetings, final staff meeting, final professional development day, final school council meeting, final parent meetings.  During these final meetings I found myself thinking…”This is it, my last meeting at St. Pat’s for …”  However, it still wasn’t real to me.

Then we had our year-end staff social.  I haven’t wrote a lot about the staff at St. Pat’s, but I could write a book.  I have been so fortunate to work with a group of people who care deeply about students, work diligently and with integrity to meet the needs of  students and families.  I have had the pleasure to work with amazing teachers and staff!  At our year-end social, which I thought was just like every other year, our amazing staff presented me with a beautiful gift and kind words.  Staff members had written me beautiful messages which touched my heart, making my transfer seem a little more real…

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Beautiful words by amazing people!

The final week of school was extremely busy.  It is busy every year, and this year would be no different.  I finally figured out the timetable/schedule.  By figuring it out, we were able to complete a number of other jobs.  However, at our school, this last week of school is a time of crisis for a number of our students.  As they look forward to the summer months, they realize the stability of school will not be available to them.  Students begin to feel stress and anxiety.  I met with a few students who were feeling anxious about moving to the High School next year.  While they are excited to be moving on, they are nervous about the unknown.  We work with our school liaison workers to encourage and assure these students.  I found myself feeling true empathy for these students, excited about the change, anxious about the unknown.

On our final school day we begin with a celebration.  We celebrate our accomplishments through the year.  I love this celebration!  Students are recognized for a variety of reasons, too many to list.  We feel there is value in showing students how far they have come during the school year.  So, we take this time to celebration.

The poem...I felt like they were writing about someone else! :)

The poem…I felt like they were writing about someone else! :)

During this celebration I was surprised with an amazing gift!  The students and staff had taken the time to create an acrostic poem for me.  Each class had then taken the time to write a special message to me/about me, and they put them all in a book.  Each student had signed the book.  A student from each class read me the messages, infront of the school.  Students who I had worked with, students who I had helped, students who had taught me so much more than I could ever teach them.  What they wrote and said was thoughtful and encouraging.  While they were reading it I was thinking, “I did that?” “They are talking about me?” and “Wow! They have me confused with someone else!” :) If ever I needed affirmation or encouragement, this was it!!!   I know that I will forever treasure this special gift.  

One page of my beautiful book!

One page of my beautiful book!

On this last day of school there were tears, hugs and kind words.  Many parents and families wished me well on my journey & students came by my office for one last hug.  Looking back on that day, the change still didn’t seem real.

In our school district we often have an organizational day after the students are done.  During this day, we sort, organize and clean.  We fill out paperwork and clean, sort and organize for the next school year.  :) At the end of this day, many teachers came by to tell me to have a nice summer and to wish me well at the new school.  When everyone (except for one teacher) was gone, I decided to walk down the hallways of the school.  Hallways that I have walked many, many times in the past five years.  As I walked, I found myself looking in classrooms and smiling a little at all the memories.  And the realization that I was moving on hit me… 

After reflecting for a few days, while I am sad that I am leaving behind a wonderful school, I know I am moving forward with wisdom gained through the experiences I have had over the past five years.  St. Pat’s is an amazing school, full of wonderful people who have taught me each and every day!  I feel so blessed to have had the experience!

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As I was leaving on my last day…with 3 monsters!

:)S

Thank you, Mr. Kornder!

Thank you

As I was dealing with a difficult student today, I thought of Mr. Kornder.

Mr. Kornder was our elementary school principal.  He was also one of my three grade six teachers.  I’m pretty sure he taught us Science and Phys. Ed.  We were not an easy group to teach.  I’m sure there were a few cases of undiagnosed ADHD (it hadn’t been discovered yet), there were students with learning difficulties, some of the boys were difficult and some of us girls loved drama…

Mr. Kornder had previously taught junior high and every year he took his junior high students on a five day field trip to Jasper.  The year he taught us grade six was no different.  A group of teachers and parents (all of whom I am sure are still recovering), set off with a group of around 45 pre-adolescent kids for five days of fun and learning!  The two times I remember “learning” on the trip were when Mrs. Stefura marched up and down the isle of the bus telling us to complete pages in our handouts about the history of Jasper and when she reminded us that Mrs. Adair insisted we complete our daily journal entries.  I also remember the canoe trip on Pyramid Lake, Capture the Flag at the hostel, Mr. Kornder pulling a classmate out of crevice at the ice fields (true story), stopping at a roadside waterfall spring and finally, the bus breaking down on our way home making us three hours late.  This trip was one of my most memorable moments of school.  We loved Mr. Kornder!  He was high energy, he was fun and we knew he cared about each of us.  The next year, we transfered to a junior high school, leaving Mr. Kornder behind.

The summer we were moving into grade 10, Mr. Kornder was transfered to our high school.  The next three years would pass in a blur.  But, Mr. Kornder was always a constant.  Mr. Kornder knew each of us.  He took the time to establish relationships.  He coached the boys football and he chatted with the girls in the hallways.  He attended sporting events, band concerts and school plays.  He was tough in that he had high expectations for each one of us.  If we made a mistake or a poor choice, we knew we would have to face his disappointment.  Once, after I got caught for skipping a few classes (I can’t say how many, I don’t ever want my children to find out:)), I was worried about my parent’s reaction, but they had to love me no matter what!  I remember feeling terrible about disappointing Mr. Kornder with my poor judgement.

Back to the difficult student…and why I thought of Mr. Kornder…

We were at a school dance, just hanging around outside the gym, not dancing :) when a boy from another high school and his friends tried to get into the dance.  They had obviously been partaking in some beverages before coming to the school and Mr. Kornder was denying them access to the dance.  We stood by and watched the exchange (high school girls also love drama).  Mr. Kornder remained calm, repeatedly asking them to leave.  One of the boys became quite upset and punched Mr. Kornder in the face knocking him into the ground.

A few weeks later, that same boy, the one who punched our principal in the face, was permitted to enrol in our high school, by the man whom he punched.  Mr. Kornder did not have to allow him to attend our school, but he did.  He could of said, “Nope, not in my school…” and moved on, but he didn’t.  Mr. Kornder’s actions spoke loudly to the students in our school.

Mr. Kornder taught me so much more than I can even begin to write about.  His lesson in forgiveness and second chances I will never forget.  Kids are kids.  Students deserve second chances, do-overs and re-dos.  Not only on their school work, but in their choices.

When I deal with a difficult or challenging student, I remind myself of Mr. Kornder’s example.  I hope to encourage students to make better choices, to learn from their mistakes.  How can I help and support a student to be the best possible person they can be?  I could be wrong, but I believe this is how Mr. Kornder lived out his career.

I have often thought about writing Mr. Kornder to thank him for what he taught me and how he influenced me.  It just never happened, until now… Thank you Mr. Kornder for being a true inspiration!  Your dedication and passion for kids inspired me to become a teacher and later an administrator.  I aspire to live up to your example!  I hope you know you have made an incredible difference!

:)S