My Healing Journey!

In the fall of 2009, I started my teaching career at Carlton Comprehensive High School (Carlton) in Prince Albert, SK. I was 23 years old. Since I taught senior science, often the students I taught were not far behind me. Many times I was asked “How do you teach students that are not much younger than you?” I would always reply “It is how you approach it that makes the difference!” I believed it was key to develop strong relationships and always carry myself with a professional demeanour. Personally, I thought a professional demeanour meant keeping my private life separate and not sharing that with my students. At that time in my career, I think it worked. I felt that I helped many students believe they could do science and become better human beings!

In 2016, my perspective started to change as my life changed. We decided that it was time to try the journey of parenthood. Then in the fall of 2017, I made the difficult decision to leave Carlton and start my journey as Vice-Principal at Wesmor Public High School in Prince Albert, SK. This was very hard for me – I loved Carlton and the people I worked with.

In 2018, we were blessed to have our precious Cady. Cady was expected to arrive October 2nd. Instead, she arrived on August 29th after 3 days of uncertainty. She was 5 weeks premature and weighed 4 lbs and 2 ounces. She was a fighter though and still is! The 6 months following her birth was taxing. We spent about 3 days a week with medical professionals – NICU, pediatricians and therapy. Cady did so well and to us was perfect! Her smile and contagious spirit will uplift you even in your darkest moments. Having said that, this experience was traumatizing. But we made it through and then I returned to work at King George Public School (King George) in Prince Albert, SK – where the real healing happened.

I was blessed to work in a school where it was the norm to share our stories, struggles, and journey, freely. The staff and the kids at King George opened their arms to me, to Cady and to Logan. In fact, on one occasion I even remember teaching a science lesson with Cady in a carrier in between taking her to medical appointments. The staff accepted me as their Vice-Principal and supported me as a Mom! I will forever be grateful for this! My learning with school leaders, Elders, staff, students, and the school community helped me recover! I was so fortunate to be at King George when I needed it most.

It is through these life experiences I began to think very differently. This was the emergence of a different belief system – one where we seek to be our holistic selves everyday at work with our colleagues and at home with our family, friends and community. Being honest with oneself and sharing with others your successes, struggles, and challenges strengthens relationships and develops trust. Thank you King George for this incredible gift!

When I reflect on all of this I think back to the start of my career. I caution the use of the word “professional”. It may actually be a barrier in building relationships and building stronger teams. Now I know my professional work is directly impacted by my personal life and that it is key as a leader to accept staff and students and their families as part of the team. When we do this, we strengthen relationships and build a stronger more cohesive team where people feel valued and enjoy going to work!

Feel free to leave me a thought, comment, or question. Love learning with you!

Meet My Mom and Dad

I’ve already taken time to acknowledge my teachers and the people I work with for helping me be a better me – now time to tell you about my Mom and Dad.

As a child, both my Mom and Dad worked on the farm. I was blessed to grow up with this experience. They both taught me so much about appreciating and respecting the land we call home and the animals that inhabit it. I learned all about the process of farming, hard work, and most importantly what it means to stay dedicated and committed to achieving one’s goals.

Although Mom and Dad were both very busy on the farm, they were never too busy to support their children. We were number one. Mom always came to our sporting events, often driving students, and my Dad came whenever he could! They also made it a priority to give us the opportunity to have music in our lives. Once a week for several years Mom and Dad drove me to Saskatoon (about an hour from the farm) to take fiddle lessons from Everett Larson, an incredible fiddle instructor who had a strong reputation for helping youth learn to play the fiddle (see my post called “ What is your impact from July 2019” to learn more about him).

The learning I endured with my Mom and Dad as a child is precious. They continued to support my learning through post-secondary education to landing a career in teaching. Their unconditional support and encouragement was key – once again they never let us give up! When I started my teaching career I knew they had a significant role in all the learning I had accomplished so far but what I didn’t know was how much they were going to teach me about life as an adult and as a Mom. You see both of them kept working hard and kept serving even after their kids were on their own. Here is a little bit more about them in my adult life.

My Mom….she finally retired at age 74. She served approximately 20 years as an Educational Associate first at the Storefront School in Leask, SK and then at Green Leaf Hutterite Colony east of Marcelin, SK. She started this pathway when many of us would say we were ready to retire! My Mom is a natural teacher and caregiver. As a child, I was fortunate to always have her home. She served her children and many other young adults and children – her kindness and love for young people is an example we all need to live by. In fact, she still visits and keeps in contact with many of the kids she has worked with. The kids at the colony often call her to talk or check on the hockey scores. She has a real connection with those kids – with all her kids. She often takes them treats and stops to see them even if it’s through the window during the pandemic.

My Dad – well he has taught me a lot. He arrived at Hill View Farm near Marcelin, SK at 16 years old and still resides there at 77. That’s incredible – 61 years. Dad was a farmer his whole life and then for the past 20 years or so he did hail adjusting for crops all across Saskatchewan. I’d say he did pretty well for a man that only had grade 9 education. My Dad lives a simple life. I’ve often had to work hard to live in the moment – it is a constant challenge for me and goal for me. For my Dad, he just does it! In the spring of 2016, he was diagnosed with cancer, the kind you never get rid of fully. Although this presented new challenges, Dad persevered and stuck to his simple way of life. A lesson I think many of us can learn from. He continues to live one day at a time and enjoy it as much as he can!

Both Mom and Dad have been instrumental in shaping who I am today and I am so fortunate to have them! As I reflect on this, I’m reminded of how important the role of a parent/caregiver is. Be sure to give it your all because it really does matter!

Feel free to leave a comment or thought. I look forward to connecting and learning with you!

My Story, My Journey, in Lifelong Learning

It’s been 3 years; I have been looking at this blog and thinking at some point I would write again. Here we are – the time has come!

Part of my hesitation to move forward was finding the direction for this blog and what I really wanted to say to my readers. Perhaps some of it was thinking that I had to get it right the first time. Now I know. This my story, my learning journey, and however it proceeds is the right way. Far to often we reflect by ourselves and never share our story especially as we move through the challenges of day to day. I am reminded by this statement, to think like a child and live like a child. My 3 year old has no hesitation to share her learning and be excited about it!

For a moment, think back to your early schooling experiences, did you ever have the thought “I’m going to finish high school, do some secondary schooling, get a job and that’s it”. Although I have often claimed to be “a lifelong learner” I don’t think this mindset was one I carried with me into my teenage years. This is by no fault of the people around me – they were inspiring and led me to where I am today! Maybe I just missed that or maybe as a society we need to reframe our thinking and conversations around building lifelong learners rather than framing education as a means to get a good paying job/career.

What if we thought of education/schooling as an experience that helped us become the best people we can be? To think we are lifelong learners, to acquire and practice skills that help us navigate life, to learn to be kind and help others, to enjoy each moment we are given and to believe we can! Would that thinking shape a child differently? Would that change what we believe is possible?

As a Mom and Educator, I know I have some work to do to ensure my children and the children I teach know that their learning experiences start well before school and don’t end when school ends. I challenge you to do the same; encourage children to reach for the stars and to develop an understanding that schooling is another experience that will impact their learning journey – the journey of life!

Take it or leave it. This is my story. It will be spoken from the heart, it will be real, it will be raw, but it will be my truth in learning about the world! I look forward to sharing and learning with you. What a ride this will be!

Feel free to leave a comment, share a story, or a thought. We learn best together!

It’s ALL about the PEOPLE!

It has been over 2 years since my last post – this was a writing piece that was drafted in July 2019 but never posted. It’s time to share it and many more insights in my journey as a mom, wife, educator and learner! Stay tuned. For the record I’m now on my 13th year of teaching in Prince Albert and I still feel the same!

Back to 2019……

After some time away it is time to get back to writing and reflecting. Through the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking about my journey in starting my teaching career in Prince Albert and why I’m still in Prince Albert teaching.

Let’s go back a few years. As some of you may know, I grew up on a farm west of Marcelin and completed my K-12 schooling in Blaine Lake. I was fortunate to ride the school bus everyday with my Auntie driving the bus – she would say “Morning Jake” as I walked onto the bus. What a great childhood memory to carry with me. I loved school – making friends, playing sports, and learning about the world around me. My role models, aside from my family, were my teachers. They constantly showed they cared about me and wanted to help me be the best learner I could be. They inspired me to be a teacher so that I could help others in their early learning journey. By the time I graduated high school, I knew math and physics were areas that I excelled in and really had a passion for; so I decided to become a math and physics teacher.

Ten years ago, I finished my Bachelor of Education at the University of Saskatchewan and started the task of finding a place to start my career. When I was given the opportunity to teach at Carlton Comprehensive High school (Carlton), I really had to think about it. I had grown up going to a school of approximately 125 students in a small community. I had always envisioned teaching in a small town just like Blaine Lake. Carlton was big and it was in a city. I was uncomfortable with the idea but I decided to take the risk and try it out – worst case I didn’t like it and could look for another job elsewhere. Well, here I am, 10 years later and still teaching in Prince Albert.

I never imagined that I would stay in Prince Albert, but I did and I love where I teach! When I reflect on why I stayed it was the people! I am a better teacher and a better person because I have been surrounded by great people who have challenged me and helped me grow!

As I think about going to a new school this fall, King George Public School, I am reminded that I am responsible for making my workplace great! My goal will be to build positive relationships with others and make where I work a great place for others and myself.

To anyone starting a new job, or going to a different workplace remember it’s the people not the place that makes you want to go back. Take time to be your very best – those that are impacted daily by you will appreciate it and want to come back each day!