Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Thank you Speech!

Gratitude is a word that has been a bit of a theme in my classroom this year.  We have been savouring a novel about a girl named Sugar who loses her home in a book called Almost Home by Joan Bauer.  I only read a chapter or two a week and this week we didn’t even seem to have time to read one chapter what with the musical and also preparing for a flash mob at Sunset Community Centre. 

Sugar’s mom is a big fan of thank you letters and a big believer in having gratitude.  And even when her mom becomes depressed after they lose their home and end up in a homeless shelter, Sugar never loses that ability to have gratitude for something even when it isn’t easy.

Having made many slide shows and a few for retirements, I said no slide shows and then I decided that I would like to do one myself.  I thought it might be tricky as I would sooner take pictures any day than have to be in one, but as I went through many photo albums and the many pictures on my computer (feel grateful I just couldn’t handle going through my thousands of slides-so no pictures of Australia or China for instance- and that some years the albums never got made and who knows where the pictures are) I felt really grateful for my life so far and the wonderful people with whom I have shared it. 

Forty years ago when I finished my B.Ed. at Queen’s I would have been shocked to know that I would be still teaching.  I was passionate about teaching but teaching hadn’t been necessarily my first choice
of careers (in first grade I declared I wanted to be a horse breeder) and I had many other ideas as well after that). I really didn’t see myself teaching more than a few years.  In my first days of teaching I thought it might be only a few weeks, but here I am forty years later still teaching and still truly having a wonderful time!

This career has given me a wide variety of experiences way beyond teaching high school English.  And honestly, I have found challenge and joy in all of these experiences (sometimes more challenge sometimes, more joy and that may have been all in the same day).  And as much as I have enjoyed working with teachers, I kept realizing I loved teaching kids the best or often letting them teach me.  There may have been a reason I loved Pollyanna who never wanted to grow up.  I haven’t had to!

And I have loved working with my colleagues-many of you are here today but many more can’t be and as I looked through many real pictures and other pictures even more sharply in my mind, I just kept thinking how much fun we have had.

 I recently read a cartoon with a teacher at her doctor’s and they are looking at an X-ray and the doctor says your heart is slightly bigger than normal but that isn’t unusual in teachers.  And honestly I think it has to be true.  In my hardest teaching and life situations, I had incredible colleagues who saw me through. 

The other wonderful thing about teaching is that you are constantly learning.  I loved teaching at SFU because they actually paid me when I was learning with my students!  How cool was that!  And at the VSB I actually I got paid to read and I got to buy books and give them away.  Also very cool! 

Through the years I have been involved in many projects with outside agencies and I am so grateful for those of you who have widened the world for my students and for me.  I am also incredibly grateful to the International Reading Association and those with whom I worked in LOMCIRA and BCLCIRA who gave me an education way beyond the classroom walls and shared my love of reading and belief in its importance in changing worlds.  Also special thanks to my friends who are here who have nothing to do with any of these worlds but who share with me so many of my other loves-travel, photography, gardening, attempts to be fit etc.  Thank you! 

I am probably crying by now-when I left Moberly and they had a party all I could do was cry which is why I have written a speech.  My colleagues from Henderson, Maquinna, Osler, Moberly, and Learning Services, thank you for so many many things to countless to mention, so much support in every way.  I also have to think of my great teaching friends in Montreal, some of whom have remained lifetime friends and three people who really have been mentors to me, Judy Scott, Diane Potts, and Jan Wells.  Then there are my administrators who I really consider teachers- I have been fortunate in having had some great administrators who have really supported me and enabled me to be a teacher and consultant with lots of autonomy.   

Last of all I have to thank my current staff.  When I left the board I knew I wasn’t ready to stop teaching, I wanted to go back to the classroom.  I very intentionally chose Trudeau.  I knew that Jim could only be kind and supportive.  This was a staff with which I had worked well in the literacy project and always wanted to feed you!  I loved the classical music floating through the parking lot in the morning and perhaps, most significantly, I never had Beetle mania but I sure had Trudeau mania. Although I really have loved working with kids all over the city, the south slope has been my special spot, and most particularly the kids from Moberly and of course Trudeau was originally Moberly’s annex.

I thought it might only be a year but somehow it stretched to four so I think that tells you how much I have enjoyed being here.  This is a wonderful staff and the care and effort they have taken to make today so beautiful makes me truly grateful, and sums up the kind of people that they are.  Thank you!

As a child I think I most wanted to travel the world, and have a multicultural family like Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans.  I think that has happened!  But I have a bit more of the world I want to see. 

Anyway I am looking forward to what comes next and thank you all for being here today!  
(Yesterday was my incredible "retirement" party and people actually wanted to a copy of my speech so here you go!!!)

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