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!