Wednesday, 25 January 2017

No longer "Acting"

Three weeks ago I began my journey as Acting Principal of this great school.  I learned a couple of things very quickly. One thing I learned is that every staff member at this school cares a great deal about the students here. There is no indifference in this building. Every teacher, educational assistant, custodian, secretary and administrator is here because it's where they want to be. I’m not sure if I have ever experienced such a “group calling” before.

Another thing I learned is that to complement the school staff there is an amazing collection of individuals, groups and parents (to which I refer as 'partners')  hungry to help out. Every time I sit down with someone, I add them to a diagram on a big whiteboard I have in my office. So far I have seventeen partners who are dedicated to support Southview Community. As with the school staff, these people radiate a desire and a commitment to help the community. They are a vital part of pursuing the vision we have for this community. It cannot be accomplished without them.

This is not an eight to four o'clock job. It doesn't stop when the bell rings or students are no longer in the building. This is a way of life and one in which I am so incredibly proud to be a part of. I am grateful to have been welcomed so meaningfully into this community and look forward to continuing on in my role here as principal. 

Monday, 9 January 2017


On my first day as acting principal at Southview Community School (SVCS) I met Lilian Betcker when she walked up to me in the front office and gave me a hug. She turned around, gave the other staff members a hug, put on her safety vest and headed out the front door.  She followed the same routine every day that first week so we began to exchange some short pleasantries and I became very curious about this seventy year old little woman who walked into the school with such familiarity, greeted everyone, and would not let anyone evade her outstretched arms.

I joined her at her safety patrol station a few days after meeting her and learned that she has had a connection to SVCS for over twenty years. Her children and now her grandchildren attend the school at which she has volunteered for the past several years. She shared that she saw a need for an area to be monitored and thought she could offer to help. When she mentioned it to the former principal he said, “When can you start?” and the rest is, as they say, history. Every day she walks past the school from her home a few blocks away, picks up her grandchildren, walks them to school, volunteers to help keep students safe, and then walks home. She gets the occasional wave from people driving by and once in a while someone stops to give her a coffee and a Timbit, but she certainly isn’t doing this for anything else other than to help out the school and community. As we were getting ready for the Christmas holiday she told me she doesn’t really enjoy the breaks from school because, as she puts it, she ”misses her people".

I have only known “Lil”, as she is called, for one short week but I am already proud to call her a friend. It is with purpose that she is the subject of our school’s first post, Tweet and image. I have seen her hugs, her dancing in the hallways and her smile. On Friday she sang 'O Canada' over the intercom with the vice principal (I had conveniently made myself scarce during the 'supposed to be' trio.). Lil epitomizes the reasons why I wanted to return to a community school. She sets an example for everyone. What school could not use more hugs, smiles, singing and dancing in the hallways?