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Reflections on being an upstander, reconnecting with the past and being high

This past week of Purim was a good opportunity to review the positive aspects of the people-growing business. Our Grade Six class spoke eloquently and openly about what kindness looks and feels like as they led the Pink Shirt Day assembly. The school was a Sea of Pink and the focus on making positive choices in dealing with others underscored the message of being an ‘upstander’ rather than a ‘bystander’ when observing bothering or bullying behaviour. Our ‘Crazy Hair Day’ and ‘Pancake Breakfast’ were further opportunities to socially interact and enjoy the company of others in laughter and good will.

One of the joys of working with children is what they say. Over my twenty-two years as a school principal and previously as a teacher there are many special moments that are endearing and heart warming to us adults. This is not to downplay the sleepless nights, social worries, “setting expectations” discussions and assisting our youngsters to learn as they hopefully grow up to be socially responsible adults.

Recently as I was circulating through the school a Grade Two student looked up at me and said, “You are so high”. The comment took me aback until I realized that he was referring to my height!

In another encounter, a Grade Five boy unexpectedly said, “You are like my second father”. My son who is twenty-two years old no longer makes these comments even though I am still his ‘first’ father!

The improvement and team play of our basketball teams has been a tremendous area of growth. Win or lose, they played respectfully in a team game, passing to each other and spending many an early morning practicing with our parent volunteer coach Lorne Brown and our PE teacher Dana Whelan. Thank you and well done RJDS Rockets!

One of the reasons I have enjoyed coming out of retirement has been to work with children again in the principal role. It was the reason that I entered this profession some forty-two years ago and why I continue to enjoy the work. I am sure to miss these moments when I return to the retired lifestyle in the fall!

It is very special when former students make contact again. This past week I received a message from a student that I taught in Grades One and Four in a public Richmond school in the 80’s. He was on ‘Linked In’ and had sought me out to send a greeting some thirty years later. He had obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree and was working for a national firm travelling across Canada. He had remembered that I had written each student in that class a postcard after I had left Richmond to work at NATO Headquarters Canadian School in Belgium and wanted to connect again.

Our children become adults and as adults we are role models to our youngsters – demonstrating a thirst for continued learning but also acknowledging our weaknesses and challenges. This is why teaching is such a rewarding career and one that includes social emotional learning, academics, and the Judaic and Hebrew component. I remain hopeful that all aspects will be carried forward to the next generations of young adults!

Patrick von Hahn

Interim Prioncipal

 

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