‘Tis the Season for Hope

There’s a certain peacefulness to the holiday season. I love this time of year.

For me, it’s one where I slow my pulse rate enough so I can see and hear the beauty that surrounds us — the twinkling lights that adorn our homes and offices, the peaceful music that fills our main streets, and perhaps even a gentle snowfall that blankets our landscape creating a certain stillness.

I have fond memories of all of these things from my childhood to the present. The holiday season rejuvenates me.

But, this year feels different. Very different.

The sense in our community is one of angst — of heightened anxiety instead of peacefulness. COVID-19 has a way of doing that. It certainly makes sense. We are living in an unpredictable world. Despite all of the prognostications and charts, tomorrow is uncertain and brings a sense of apprehension.

And yet, I continue to believe in our future. I believe in the power of HOPE — the importance of looking towards a brighter tomorrow. Our collective future is built on hope.

It’s what drives us in education — the belief that our efforts will result in a better tomorrow — where our students are taught to be solution finders, creators and innovators. Every meeting we have, every decision we make is focused on building capacity and resilience in our students. What we’re really instilling in them is HOPE. Hope builds belief in oneself and others. It builds character, self-worth and inspiration.

Hope is critical. Hope is essential.

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My Graduation Speech During a Pandemic

I have previously written about the importance of struggling if we want to strengthen our brains (The Struggle is Real) — that moment in your thinking when it feels like your wheels are spinning and you’re not sure of the correct way out of the mud-pit.

It is a critical moment in brain development where we actually see incredible neural growth and connectivity as the brain works to solve the problem. It’s actually an important time to celebrate.

Well … there was a lot of celebrating that happened while I was preparing this year’s graduation speech. My struggle was real! And it lasted for quite a while, too, I might add.

As I do most years, I begin to think about my speech when the calendar turns over in January. I formulate some ideas and write them down in my notebook. It comes together slowly usually about a week or two before the big event on stage.

This year was completely different. I was having a horrible time deciding on a theme as it had already been an up-and-down year in Saanich … and then came …

… the pandemic.

What does a Superintendent’s speech look like during that tumultuous time?

Year-end Reflections – Lessons from Yoda (Star Wars – v.2)

As this school year draws to a close I have begun to reflect on the year that has been — and its importance to my personal and professional growth. And because I love Star Wars — I have now connected some of this learning to the wise and articulate Yoda — master of the Jedi Knights.

Jedi Master Yoda

So, without further ado … here are some of my 2018-19 reflections as Superintendent. May the Force Be With You:

YOU WILL ONLY FIND WHAT YOU BRING IN

Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Yoda and Luke

Yoda told his young apprentice (Luke Skywalker) to not take his anger, fear and weapons into the dark cave as bringing these would only result in conflict. His words proved to be prophetic.

In life we bring both our negative and positive experiences to a current situation. I reminded myself this year to leave my negative reactions at the door and remain open to new ideas, thoughts and opinions. Fear and anger do not open doors, but close them.