The Outdoors

I have always been a lover of the outdoors! As a child I spent countless hours outside at the farm. I loved cutting grass, pulling weeds, helping Dad fix the farm equipment or riding my bike! It was a treat when Mom and Dad would take us camping and I could sit around the fire on Saturday night and listen to the Old Tyme Dance Party on CJWW 600. I have many fond memories hunting for chickens, deer, and moose as a family and blueberry picking in the Chitek Lake area. One thing for sure my Mom and Dad provided us many opportunities to appreciate the outdoors!

I want to tell you a little more about chicken hunting. This truly was a family affair. When I was a child, Dad would do the shooting and my Mom would clean the chicken. She is incredibly fast at plucking feathers – I should have a video of this! Now days, my sister Tara does most of the shooting but guess what – Mom still does the cleaning. Some things stay the same!

This past fall, Cady got to experience the joy in hunting with her Auntie T (Tara). We don’t get to go often but on this particular afternoon we loaded up two trucks and did what we did as kids – we drove around the countryside dressed in orange! Aunty T shot a moose that afternoon and Cady got to see it all from the window of the truck. This was cool! She had the opportunity to experience what I did as a child.

In my adult life, I have been blessed to marry a man who also loves the outdoors and comes from a family who lives in the outdoors. Snowmobiling, hiking, swimming, roasting wieners, fishing, and flying are some of the great activities we have been lucky to experience at the cabin. We really are very fortunate, to have the farm at Marcelin where Mom and Dad reside and the cabin in Northern Saskatchewan where Logan’s Mom and Dad live, to fill our days with outdoor adventures!

I could go on and on with stories about the outdoors at the farm or the experiences of the cabin but what I really want to share is how the outdoors impact me as an adult. Although the outdoors have always been enjoyable for me and where I have felt most at home, spending time in the outdoors has become a necessity for me to navigate the challenges we have faced the last couple years.

In the hectic life of working and raising children it is difficult to find time for the outdoors but it’s so important! Logan and I have chosen to raise our children through outdoor activities because it has brought so many memories for us and enjoyable moments with family and friends!

When I’m outside either cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, riding my bike, in the boat on the water, sitting by a campfire, gardening, going on a hike, I feel a sense of awe and tranquility. When I can hear my breath, the sounds of the birds, the coyotes, the wind blowing the leaves, and the water running, it is calm and I find it easier to breathe and relax. I don’t know if you reap the same benefits but when you get the opportunity to spend time outdoors take advantage! The outdoors are my therapy, my way to see clearer, the way for me to be at my best!

As the spring season arrives, I encourage you to think about an activity you could try outside this spring, summer and fall. This year I’m thinking about taking up golfing more since we have a beautiful golf course right in Birch Hills. Something else we have learned – do what you can in your backyard because it is easier to fit into the pockets of time you have available. What activity could you find joy in?

Feel free to leave me a thought, question, or comment. We learn best together!

This is Grandma Glencross

I had a different blog post written to post this week but when I opened up social media today, I was reminded by my Sisters’, Penny and Tara, that it was Grandma Glencross’s birthday today. Grandma would have been 93 years old. She was born March 23, 1929 and passed away March 6, 2005 at the age of 76 years old. At the time, I was 18 years old and in my first year of post-secondary schooling. I thought about that and decided I need to share with others how special Grandma was to us kids. Although there are many neat stories to share about her life and growing up on the prairies, I’d like to focus on my childhood and what Grandma meant to me and how she shaped my life!

For all of my childhood, Grandma lived in the town of Blaine Lake. We lived out on the farm about 10 minutes from town. As such, my sister Tara and I were so fortunate to see Grandma often. We have so many wonderful memories. Grandma was a gardener. She had a garden in town that we would often go and help her with. She would also come out to the farm to help Mom with her garden. I have fond memories of harvesting season. Grandma, Auntie Leona, and Uncle George would come to the farm often especially on potatoe digging day. That was an operation! Everybody had a job!

Grandma loved to play cards and compete. She started us young with a game called fight, many of you might call it “war”. As we got older, we learned to play kaiser, blitz and even a little bit of crib. In Grandma’s later days, she played cards regularly with her friends at the Blaine Lake Seniors Lodge. Visiting with Grandma usually meant playing cards.

Grandma was also an avid sports fan. Likely where my love of sports started. We watched hockey, baseball and curling all the time! Grandma would always attend our softball, curling, volleyball, soccer and basketball games. She would be cheering us on from the stands and she was there to congratulate us when we won and wipe away our tears of disappointment when we lost. Either way she was there!

Grandma loved music and so did I. Aside from Mom and Dad, Grandma was my number one fan! She always came to fiddle contests and watched me play. It brought her great joy! She had a favourite waltz that I always played for her, “The Black Velvet Waltz”. It never got old and when I hear it today I can just see her listening in and taking it all in! Although I loved playing fiddle regardless, playing for Grandma was different. She had a way of letting you know she was super proud of you. As I reflect on this, I wonder if Grandma was in many ways my motivator to keep learning and to keep playing!

Lastly, Grandma was a meal maker! She always had the best meals and the best treats to share with us! My fondest memories were going to school and then heading to Grandma’s place for lunch. I think Tara and I did this about once a week. It was the best!

One of my grandest learnings from Grandma and I’m still working on that is to always be early! When we would be going somewhere with Grandma she would always arrive at the farm about half hour before departure time. Mom would often be saying to Tara and I, “Hurray up and get ready, Grandma will be here right away”. Sure enough we would watch her white Chrysler driving slowly down the grid road nice and early. We would yell back to Mom, “Grandma is here!” I think there is a life lesson in this. Being early gave Grandma more time with us and with everyone and likely meant she was never rushed. Life is simpler that way.

Grandma really was the best! We idolized her and all she stood for! She was always there to cheer us on, give us a hug when we needed it, cook us an amazing meal, play a game of cards, sing songs with us on her guitar, or rub our back and hair when we were ill. When she passed we lost a piece of our life that day! I remember feeling so empty. Think about that. Her impact was so big I/we didn’t know how to move on without her. Having said that, we did – likely from all the confidence and love she instilled in us! I know that today she would be super proud of all of her kids and grandkids. She always put family first and it shows!

With this story, I hope to reiterate what I have learned from people like my Grandma. The little things matter and how you make people feel daily matters! Care for people, love them with all your heart, and do whatever you can to make them feel safe and comfortable!

Thank you to my Sisters’ for inspiring me to write this!

Feel free to leave me a thought, question, or comment. We learn best together!

My Story of Discomfort

I have been sitting on this blog post for some time debating to write it or not to and then to publish it or not to. This is not meant as a political post or a place to invoke conflict or fear. I’m hopeful that what I’m about to share will serve as a point of reflection for myself and perhaps others who might be feeling the same.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the current state of the world and the rising tension amongst people, what it all means and how we can continue to navigate through this. When I started writing this, I was really thinking about the pandemic and the freedom convoys that had been taking place across our nation. Now, the addition of the war in Ukraine has taken over my thoughts. Regardless, these are all situations that bring uneasiness and perhaps discomfort to some.

For myself, I have experienced many emotions and my thinking about how to proceed and how not to proceed in my daily life has been challenging particularly when I think about returning to “normal”, deciding whether to let Cady go back to pre-k and thinking about how to protect my 4 month old son. All the while, being an avid believer in the positive impacts of socialization and what we learn when we are immersed with people. Finding balance is challenging. These are my personal struggles at home and then I think about my role as a leader and what struggles exist in teaching others and leading others and how I would navigate through that if I were at school.

Many times over the last month I have asked myself “As a school leader, what would I say to students and staff right now?” I have thought about this question a lot trying to find the right answer and then with help from one of my greatest mentors I realized that the best thing I can do is listen to others, acknowledge their feelings, and then share my thoughts in hopes others will do the same. We don’t have to agree but I think we do owe it to each other to listen and then think.

The biggest thought I can leave you with today is that it is ok to reflect and change your narrative. Just like our first draft of writing is not our final draft, our first draft of thoughts may not be our final draft of thoughts either. Over the years, I am a better person because I listened to others and revised/refined my thinking. Through the most difficult times, I encourage you to do the same. We may not know the answers and that is alright but if we listen to one another, and continually reflect on our conversations with each other I have confidence we will get through this! When we navigate with our hearts – relationships are strengthened, teams are strengthened and we emerge much better off!

On a personal note, remember to look after yourself and take breaks from the heaviness in the world. Just yesterday, I had to make the conscious decision to turn the television off and only check in once in the morning and once in the evening. This is also ok. Take care my friends!

Feel free to leave me a thought, question, or comment. We learn best together!

My husband, my best friend, the father of my children

I have taken time to speak about my personal journey in teaching and some of the people who have had a significant impact on me, however, I have not yet told you about my husband, best friend, and father of my children.

I met Logan in 2006 at his family cabin north of La Ronge, SK and we began dating in 2008. I could tell you many stories about our early years together or all the accomplishments we have made together, but for this story I want to focus on Logan and all the qualities I admire about him!

For those of you that know Logan and I, you likely know we have very different strengths. For those of you who don’t, let me tell you about some of the key differences between us. Logan is organized and methodical in his thinking and the way he arranges/prioritizes his work and home life. Organization does not come easy to me. Often, my thoughts are all over the place. I usually say “I’m a thinker of ideas but I need someone else to capture them on paper for me”. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I need to be more organized and have been working on that. For Logan, everything is organized to maximize productivity and efficiency.

Logan is also extremely creative! He often builds tools to support his work, or has creative ideas to solve household issues that arise. Whenever I have troubles fixing something, solving a problem, or I lose patience, I call Logan. When something breaks and someone asks can it be fixed, I always think “If it can, Logan will figure it out!” I so appreciate this about Logan – there is very little he can’t fix and few issues he can’t solve!

One of Logan’s greatest strengths is that he is patient. He will work on a task meticulously for hours, days, until he gets it just right. He will put the long haul in to reap rewards later. I much prefer fast solutions and quick gratification. For example, Logan’s current project is putting a new radio in his Dads Supercub aircraft. This project has been ongoing for several months now – every lunch hour that he can, he works on it. When I’m gone our house has electrical wires all over it while he ensures every piece is perfect! I couldn’t do it – I would lose focus.

As a father, Logan is exemplary. When he is at home he is all hands on deck with his kids, obtaining little time for himself. He spends hours on a 120 cc snowmobile with our daughter Cady. Even when it’s -35 degrees Celsius outside, they are out there. He builds hills with the snowblower and packs them down so they are safe for her to sled down. He also can’t wait to take her flying when he goes. He is truly a family man. He often tells me “the joy in flying is when he can take us!” Speaking of creativity, Logan also weaves that into his role of father. You never know what you might see when you look out the window when he is with Cady! The newest thing is to pull our child chariot behind the 120 cc snowmobile and take Cady and Wyatt for rides. He is full of surprises and I’m never sure if it is Logan’s idea or Cady’s. This is so much fun!

As a husband, Logan has been nothing but supportive. I often have big dreams and he never deflates my enthusiasm. He just trusts me and goes along with it. He would say “once your mind is set on something you are going to do it anyways!” I suppose there is some truth to that statement. Once again, I admire this quality in Logan. He is always my greatest fan through my wackiest ideas and he often brings a realistic perspective to help visualize how I will actually achieve what I want to.

I think many of us could learn from Logan. He prioritizes his family but still takes pride in doing his best while at work. He is supportive of my dreams and ambitions, aims to be the very best father he can be, and takes pride in everything he does. One thing for sure – Logan brings us all up! What more could we ask for! They say to surround yourself with people who make you better. Logan is just that. Life has slowed down for me – something Logan has taught me! Take time to enjoy the tiny moments and most importantly just be you whether you are at work with your colleagues or at home with your family!

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!

What is your impact?

This week I’m inspired to write about your impact on family, friends, your community and beyond. As some of you may have noticed my long time fiddle instructor Everett Larson passed away this past week. Here is the link to his obituary:

For about 8 years my parents drove from our family farm by Marcelin, SK to Saskatoon, SK (about an hour drive) so that I could take fiddle lessons from Mr. Everett Larson. Mr. Larson was a kind, patient teacher who was passionate about music, particularly the accordion and fiddle. He always focused on being precise – every bow stroke and finger pattern mattered! What I admired most about Mr. Larson was his dedication to teaching youth. He was gentle in his approach but yet set high expectations for his students to do well! From a teaching perspective, this simple approach may just be the recipe for high quality teaching. As a result, Mr. Larson’s legacy and impact on the fiddling world is far greater than he would likely ever imagine.

This reflection makes me think about my role as a teacher and what responsibility I have for having an impact on others. Although I have not had much contact with Mr. Larson for the past 15 years, his teachings, his way of life, remains with me.

To my teaching friends, think about what you want your impact to be! Don’t be afraid to ask your students what your impact is – you can only change it if you know what it is.

Lastly, my challenge to all is this – let others know what impact they have on you and thank those that influence you in positive ways! You will strengthen your relationships and walk around “feeling good” that you told them!

Scheduling Time for Yourself and Your Family

Here we go with my second blog post. It is hard to believe a week has already passed since my last post.

This week – this year – I have been thinking about my journey as a teacher through the past 10 years and my journey as a Mom through the past 10 months.

In my teaching career, I have always believed you give it your all! This likely stems from growing up with two parents who do just that in every task they do. I still believe this! Kids deserve your very best each and every day and this often means long hours spent planning lessons that are engaging and authentic, listening to students and supporting colleagues. These long hours sometimes mean that I have not spent as much time at home as I likely should. I have often filled my days and evenings with work related pieces – don’t get me wrong I love my profession and the impact I can have every day at work – but sometimes we do need to turn that off.

Through the last 10 months as a Mom, although difficult at times and a learning journey, I have taken short stints of time for me – driven out of necessity to just have a break. My short breaks usually meant going to a fitness class, going to a meeting, or going to get groceries. Although not often, these breaks were so important for my own well being. I was a better Mom when I returned from these short breaks and they enabled my daughter to have one on one time with her Dad.

Moving forward as I return to teaching this fall I am going to schedule short breaks for me and for my family. My calendar will now have a slot for “me” time and “family” time. I will schedule these just as I do meetings and appointments. I will continue to be a better Mom and a better teacher and leader as a result!

To me this post is timely for my teacher colleagues who are in need of some “me” time and “family” time. Place it in your schedule for the summer and find a place for it when you begin the 2019-2020 school year.

For everyone else – whatever your passion may be – take time for you and for your family so that you can be your very best. Although we often say we do not have time – remember you are the one scheduling your time!