Thank You! June 25 – 29

Like the monkey said after he ran over his tail with the lawn mower, “it won’t be long now!” What an amazing year.  We’ve arrived at the end of this chapter of the book of learning at Waldheim School, and it makes me wonder, what lies ahead for all of us? I think about those excited kids that were in on Friday to meet June, and the nervous parents of first time students. I think about those new families moving to our school next year, and their nervous excitement. I think about new staff members that will be joining us next year, what must they be wondering? I also think about staff members saying farewell to Waldheim School, and while I’m sad to see them leave, I’m excited for their new schools and the new students that will benefit from their arrival.

As this will be the final On the Horizon for the 2017/18 school year, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to you, the authors of our “book of learning”.

First to the EA’s, those amazing ladies who work with some of our most challenging students on a daily basis. Everyday you show up with a smile on your face, and an attitude that screams, “every child is worth it, and I’m never, ever going to give up on them!” Cora, Priscilla, Krista, Jamey, Kimberly, Bailey, and Helen have been an integral part of our team this year. Thank you for everything you do!

Jamie, Malinda, Brandi, and Ed work so hard to keep our school looking amazing, but they are so much more than that. They are part of the fabric that makes us great. A couple weeks ago Jamie popped her head into my office and shared a piece of information with me regarding a student. Not all caretakers do this. This was not done to cause trouble for the child, rather she was aware of expectations in our building and knowing that she’s part of the team she shared this information. Crew, your busy season is upon you, all the best this summer, we promise to stay out of your way until the end of August! Thank you for everything you  do!

Sara, while you are only with us a couple days a week, the impact you have on our building and on our vulnerable learners is immeasurable. Not only are you a critical ear for our students, you are also an important person in my role. As a beginning principal there  are many days I’m left wondering if I’m on the right track, and you have been a patient listener and have asked the right questions at the right time.  Thank you for everything you do!

June, again on Friday I was in awe of what you do, and how effortless you make it look. Kindergarten is such an important part of a person’s life, and you help these youngsters as they begin their journey. From your gentle, kind words to your unwavering expectations, you are critical to the success of those kids, and to the peace of mind for their parents. Thank you for everything you do!

Sharlene, you have continued to amaze me with your innovative, open style of teaching. You have your kids reaching far beyond anything they may have imagined coming into grade 1. Keep sharing your learning with others, you create a ripple effect that makes us all  better. Thank you for everything you do!

Shantel, you have become “Waldheim School” in such a short time. Your leadership, and commitment to student success has not gone unnoticed, and I’m so excited for you and your expanded role next year. We have appreciated your voice during our adult learning this year, and you need to be proud of the impact you’ve had on all of us. Thank you for everything you do!

Cara, it is so hard to believe this was your first year at Waldheim School, you worked so hard to become part of the family. Your quiet, inquisitive nature served you well as you grew into your role with us. Thank you for bringing so much music, laughter, learning, and joy to our building, coming into your room always brightened my day! Thank  you for everything you do!

Amy, from the moment you started talking about students in our interview in Warman this year I knew you had “it”. The kids love you because you loved them first, and you continue to inspire me to always see the best in everyone. You will be missed terribly, but I know Hanley will be a better school because of you. Thank you for everything you do!

Brittney, you are one of the most amazing teachers I’ve ever had the fortune of learning from. When you reflect on the year you’ve had, I want you to think about the mountains you’ve moved, and how you did this. I watched a teacher develop deep, meaningful relationships with kids based on love and respect and based on a desire to help every single one of them grow under your watchful eye. You’ve had a great year, thank you for everything you do!

David, you have had an impact on our school that’s even larger than your laugh. I hear community members speak of the way their children have fallen in love with learning with Mr. Guenther. Watching you with the kids, it’s easy to see why they love being in your class, you have a passion for learning that you let shine through. Thank you for being such a risk taker, and such a leader on our staff. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of learning from my mistakes. Thank you for everything you do!

Brenda, you continue to inspire me, everyday, to be the best I can be for our kids. Your commitment to the kids you work with is second to none, and your passion for adult learning has helped create the culture at Waldheim School. So many teachers look up to you and count on you for advice and support, thank you for being there for them. I hope you are excited about your new role in grade 1/2 next year. Thank you for everything you do!

Leah, thank you for continuing to model risk taking and reflection in your daily work. The leadership you have shown with your commitment to your Genius Hour work has been awesome this year. What I appreciate about you the most is your reflective style, you have transitioned from a senior math/science teacher to a strong elementary teacher, that’s not an easy thing to do. Thanks for everything you do!

Joanne, I can’t even begin to list everything you’ve done this year, from taking over the milk program, to putting on the career fair, to helping the girls perform an amazing version of Annie. What stands out to me the most, however, is your love for those kids you work so closely with. They may make us pull our hair out some days, but you never give up on them, you never quit, and you always remind them to be the best they can be. Thank you for everything you do!

Marla, your work with our young leaders is so critical to helping create well rounded young adults. I appreciate the extra time you take to make your room available to students who may need a safe, quiet place to hang out. Thank you for everything you do!

Krisinda, thank you for allowing your passion for your students show through this year in our adult learning. Your message of loving and caring for every student is so important, and one that cannot be stressed enough. Thank you for everything you do!

Glen, thank you for allowing me to spend so much time in your shop, even when I know I’m getting in the way. I love to see you working with our kids, you model MPSC every day in your room, and do so in a way that honors, challenges, and celebrates each and every student. There is a reason you are so revered in our division, and I continue to be blown away at the work you get out of those kids by simply standing back and letting them know you believe in them. I’m happy you are at Waldheim School, and I’m grateful that I get to learn from you everyday. Thank you for everything you do!

Trace, thank you not only for your commitment to your students as learners, but for your commitment to them as individuals. You show love and patience for all of your kids, and when faced with a tough choice for a student, I often catch myself thinking, “what would Trace do?” Thank you for agreeing to take on the acting admin role again this year, it gives Jesse and I such peace of mind knowing you are taking care of things at the school. Thank you for everything you do!

Katharine, thank you for your endless enthusiasm and your commitment to every learner (young and old) in our building. You have gone the extra mile for so many of your kids this year, it is humbling to watch. I really appreciate the way you model for your students how you want them to live as learners, it is very inspiring. Thank you for everything you do!

Dwayne, thank you for anchoring the elementary end of Waldheim School. I am always amazed at how well you juggle things with 30+ kids on a daily basis, and how every single  student in your class knows how much you care about them. Thank you for everything you do!

Ellen, thank you so much for the impact you have had on our students this year. I remember the words of your cooperating teacher, Greg Bardal, who told me in August, “you are getting a winner, she’s a keeper for sure!” He could not have been more correct. In your first year you have somehow managed to strike the perfect balance with the students who know how much you care, but also know you are the lead learner in the room.  Congratulations on an amazingly successful first year, and thank you for everything you do!

Steve, thank you so much for being my “go-to” when I’m in need of advice. You have the pulse of the school community and that is so important to everything we do. I know how busy this time of year is for you, with finals and grad, and what I continue to marvel at is how you do it everyday with a smile on your face and a never ending supply of time for anyone who wants to talk. Thank you for everything you do!

Evan, thank you for a great year.  You have had such an amazing connection with the students this year, they really look up to you, and you will be missed greatly by everyone here. As you enjoy your summer, and look ahead to the fall, I want you to think about those kids who are waiting for Mr. Derksen to enter their lives in Rosthern. They don’t even know the impact that is heading their way. Thank you for everything you do!

Lori, thank you for the support in the office that you give Corinne. I’m so happy that your time has been increased for next year, we are a busy office, and your help is invaluable! Thank you for everything you do!

Corinne, I don’t even know where to begin. Simply put, I’d be lost without you. You are the first person I see in the morning, and the usually the last I see at the end of the day, and you are always smiling. There are so many things I appreciate about you, but I’d say the one that stands out above all is your love for the kids. You have a special place in your heart for our vulnerable kids, and there is a reason your desk is the first place people stop when they come to our building. Thank you for everything you do!

Jesse, you are my right hand man, and the guy who keeps me grounded and looking in the right direction. Thank you so much for your leadership this year, you have been an incredible addition to Waldheim School, and I know how much the staff and community as a whole appreciate you. One of the lesser known things about you, that I really admire, is your commitment to deep learning at our monthly ALT meetings. I have loved learning from you this year, and look forward to many more years working with and learning from you. Thank you for everything you do!

To all of you, thank you for trusting in me and keeping me in check when I need it. I think we have an incredible school that serves an incredible community. We have had an amazing year, and from the bottom of my heart I want you to know how much I love each and everyone of you!

Well, one week left, and here is what lies ahead:

Monday:

  • K1 Grad
  • Grade 4/5 Guenther & 5 Hardy to Shekina (sp?)
  • Bruce away (am) only
  • Final exams continue for 10-12 students
  • Staff meeting after school (please see agenda sent out today)

Tuesday:

  • K2 Grad
  • Final exams continue for 10-12 students
  • Staff gathering at Jesse’s

Wednesday:

  • Final day of classes
  • Classroom clean up

Thursday:

  • Grad
  • Prep day
  • Laird 8 to 9 transition meeting (1:30 in Laird)

Friday:

  • Final day

As usual, create a great week.

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Just Let Go. June 18 – 22

“It’s okay daddy,  just hang on and then let go!” Those were the words of my seven year old daughter, Eva, today as we spent a bit of Father’s Day at their new favorite place, Clip and Climb. This is a place that makes wall climbing accessible for all ages and abilities, and does so in a safe, fun way. As I watched all four of my kids scurry up rope ladders, climbing walls, and jungle gyms, I noticed my palms were beginning to sweat, and my chest was getting a little tight. You see, I’m very scared of heights. This fear makes several things difficult for me, like hanging Christmas lights on my house, cleaning eave troughs, or fixing the banners in the gym. I don’t like heights, but there I was, in my safety harness, with my little ones who were encouraging me to go for it. I cautiously started up a pretty basic structure, and when I was about 8 feet off the ground I went for it….almost. That’s when my seven year old reminded me to just let go. So I did. It was such a rush of adrenaline as I was lowered safely to the ground via an autobelay that is specifically designed to prevent you from free falling to the ground.

Eva floating down.

I had successfully dipped my toe in the water, and was ready for my next climb. This is when Bobby asked me to climb the rope ladder with him. As we made our way up, I noticed I was beginning to feel very nervous again. Bobby swiftly made it right to the top of his ladder, while I froze half way up, a height that I’d say was about 50 feet up, while in reality, was likely more around 15 feet. Regardless, I was faced with the same challenge, just let go. It took quite a few deep breaths, and some encouragement from the staff, but again, I went for it. I repeated this pattern over and over, even commiserating with some other parents that had been coerced into the “fun”. As I kept trying different structures something started to change. I have no idea when exactly it happened, but after a while I noticed I was not scared anymore, I was tired, but not scared. I was taking more chances, climbing higher, taking a few more risks, and all the while, having a lot of fun!

My sister’s b-day cake. Always lots of joking in our family.

Initially I was going to write about the importance of laughter, and it’s therapeutic benefits (see here) after we had spent time at my sister’s birthday party on Saturday. It was today’s experience, though, that had me reflecting on the work we’ve done this year and the change that awaits all of us next year. I know when we started our learning journey this year there was some fear and nervousness, and each of us had to just let go at some point. Just as I was completely exhausted at the end of the day today, I know we are all tired as the end of the year approaches. While I was exhausted, I was also proud of what I had done in overcoming some of my fears. As the end of the year creeps closer, I am also very proud of the work that has been done at our school this year. For a moment, I’d like you to consider the following:

  • what filled you with fear and/or nervousness at the start of the year?
  • how did you work to overcome these fears?
  • how do you feel about the work you’ve done now that the end of the year approaches?
  • how can you draw on what you learned this year to help you continue to grow next year and beyond?

We have a great week ahead, with a lot of work for all learners at #WaldheimSchool, and it starts tomorrow with a grade 7 & 8 field trip. Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday

  • grade 7/8 trip to Redberry

Tuesday

  • Bruce away (am) swimming with kids pre-K class

Wednesday

  • Annual awards ceremony

Thursday: National Indigenous Peoples Day

  • Bruce away (am) classroom environment meeting
  • Bricks 4 Kids day 2
  • Annual Jones awards
  • Last day of classes (10 – 12)

Friday

  • Final exams begin
  • Laird Grad

As always, create a great week!

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Pride and Joy: June 11 – 15

What gives you pride and joy in your work? When Brad was out for a visit on Friday afternoon, he asked that question, one which had been asked by Lori Jeschke on a few different occasions. Pride and joy at work. At one point I would have thought that was an oxymoron, I would have said pride and joy at work was like jumbo shrimp, or found missing. The thing is, when asked about what gives me pride and joy at work, I actually had more trouble narrowing it down than I did with coming up with just one answer. Before you read any further, however, I’d like you to answer the question yourself. What brings you pride and joy at work?

I’ll get to my answer in a bit, but I need to share the other side of the coin, what brings me pride and joy in my life. If you visit this blog, it’s likely very obvious; it’s my children. I am always in awe of the things they do, and sometimes I may be in awe of the poor choices. For instance, how did anyone think that putting apple sauce on the family dog would be a great idea, but one of my kids did, and I was in awe of that decision. Of course there are other moments, moments when I sit back and think, “how did they become so awesome!?!” This Saturday was one of those moments when I was full of pride and joy.

The forecast was for clear, sunny skies, so I could not resist a trip up to Waskesiu with Bobby, Maggie, and Charlie, while Krista and Eva were at Girl Guides camp at Pike Lake.As my kids were playing on the beach, I noticed a grandmother and her granddaughter, who I’d assume was about 15 months old given how she walked on the beach, approach the area where my kids were digging. I made my way over to them, just to be sure Charlie would not inadvertently hurt the little girl, however to my surprise, Charlie got down on his knees and said, “hi there. Do you want to play?” She instinctively reached for the shovel he had, and that’s when the pride kicked in. He offered it up to her, and then proceeded to show her the rest of their beach toys. They played together under her grandmother’s supervision for a few minutes before she toddled away on another adventure, while Charlie returned to the place that Bobby and Maggie were playing. These two will likely never see each other again, however it was during that moment that their lives intersected that I felt great pride in my little guy.

When I think about the joy in my life, I also think about the time I get to spend with my family. Today was one of those days as I was able to take the kids to the University for a walk, then to my mom’s for a visit, and finally, to Art in the Park to look around and listen to a little music. We have so much fun together, and the part that brings me so much joy is the way they fully capture me, allowing me to put the rest of my life on pause for a moment. This brings me great joy.

Have you answered the question yet? What brings you pride and joy at work?

For me, I feel great pride when members of the #WaldheimSchool community achieve success as a result of their efforts. It could be personal bests in athletics, nailing a line or song in the play, creating a great product in class, hitting a home run in a lesson they’ve delivered, delivering an engrossing presentation to the staff at a staff meeting, or successfully planting the seeds for a more engaged community. So many people do so many different, amazing things at our school, and it’s being able to be a part of that that brings me great pride.

When I think about what brings me joy at work, I think it’s when I see or hear about those who struggle the most have moments of success. I’m never as happy as when someone who is full of self doubt smiles with pride, and when someone who tells themself, “I can’t do that”, and then they turn around and exceed their own expectations. I see it everyday, kids and adults alike who are faced with challenges find a way to overcome, and grow. I truly hope you can identify what brings you pride and joy in your work, and I hope you are able to share that with others.

We are three weeks away from the end of the year, let’s make every moment count, and it starts this week:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting
  • Gr. 6 at Camp Kadesh

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jesse away at ALT
  • Gr. 6 at Camp Kadesh

Wednesday:

  • Katie Kulchar coming for a visit

Thursday:

  • Div. III Soccer
  • Bricks for Kids (gr. 1/2, 2, 3, 5)

Friday:

  • Grade 7-12 Slo-Pitch tournament

As always, create a great week!

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The Ritual of Reflection. June 4 – 11

Evan battles for 3rd place in his heat.

“You go, I’ve got it. Things will be fine here.” These were the words that met me Friday morning as I arrived at the school. Jesse knew I was planning on heading up to Prince Albert to watch our provincial track athletes, however due to circumstances, I felt I should stay at the school. He reassured me he had already arranged the day, and felt that it was important that I go and cheer on our students in their events. So, I hopped back in my vehicle, pointed it north, and up to PA I went, ready to cheer on our kids in what I was anticipating would be a cold, rainy, and windy day. I am so glad I was able to watch a few races, the kids were amazing, and it will be fun to add some new names to our provincial track banners!

This weekend was a good reminder of the importance of rituals, and working together, as the kids and I had a lot going on. Krista was busy volunteering with the Girl Guides at Buster Days on Saturday, and working at the hospital on Sunday. This meant I was in charge of the kids, and as I said, we were busy, busy, busy. On Saturday morning we once again took part in what has become an important ritual to my son, Bobby, as we attended the annual Buster Days pancake breakfast. Every year we do this, and every year I am amazed at how important this is to him. After all, it’s not like this is a gourmet breakfast, it’s mass produced pancakes and sausage served with weak lemonade and lukewarm coffee.

Eva & I had a blast doing this one.

Whatever it is, it’s a ritual, and it is important to him, therefor it’s important to me. After the breakfast we returned home, and given that the weather wasn’t the greatest, we decided to get to some crafts the kids had been waiting to work on. Eva, Charlie, and Maggie had bought some wooden bird houses at Michaels earlier this year, and have been waiting and waiting to get the chance to paint them. Eva painted away, inviting me to add my design to her house, while Charlie and Maggie were busy slopping on gobs of color here and there. It was a great time, and in the end the houses ended up looking pretty cute, maybe even inviting enough for a bird or two!

When you think about the important rituals and teamwork that happen at our school, what is it that comes to mind? Is it the annual celebration of excellence that you think of? Is it the difficult process of saying goodbye to your class? Is it the process of preparing final progress reports? Maybe it’s the opportunity to share all the great things about your kids during our transition meetings. What ever it is, I truly hope that one of the rituals you take time for is reflectionToo often, we get caught up in the hectic nature of June as we try to get everyone across the finish line in one piece. I’d invite you to take a bit of time to think about everything you’ve accomplished this year. Celebrate the great work you have done, and think back to your presentation, and how proud you were to share what you were working on. I’d also invite you to think about how you have brought My Prairie Spirit Classroom to life in our school this year. As I walk the halls and visit classrooms, I’m amazed at how effortless you all make it look, and I’m enthused by the constant desire to get better and better. Finally, as you reflect, think about how you want to grow as a professional, and think about what it could look like next year after you have successfully accomplished your goal(s).

With four weeks to go, there is a lot of work yet to be done, here’s what lies ahead for next week:

Monday:

  • K – 6 swimming, day 1
  • Bruce away (pm ~ medical)

Tuesday:

  • 1 – 3 Reading Data due
  • Classroom visits: how do the kids feel they have grown this year? What evidence can they point to?

Wednesday:

  • WHRS 4-6 track and field in Duck Lake (Jesse, Dwayne, Leah attending)
  • Bruce away (pm ~ classroom environment meeting)

Thursday:

  • K – 6 swimming, day 2
  • Classroom visits: how do the kids feel they have grown this year? What evidence can they point to?

Friday:

  • Classroom visits: how do the kids feel they have grown this year? What evidence can they point to?

As always, create a great week!

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