“ Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
- Johann Wofgang von Goethe
It was with great anticipation that I recently read Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan’s new book “Professional Capital”. I find Andy’s work always thought provoking and in many ways affirming. Affirming in the sense that I see much of his writing evident in our district.
Their book is a critique and a challenge of our teaching and learning profession. The authors articulate an inspiring vision for the teaching profession; one that is in tune with Coquitlam.
One of the conclusions I took from their book is that for a district to improve it must be focused on the development of every employee in support of its’ mission or dream.
As the year comes to an end I wish to thank all employees for the exemplary work they do on a daily basis. Our commitment to collective growth is having observable outcomes for learners and our collective work ensures positive outcomes will continue.
I can find no better way to thank you all than to share with you the words of one of our students.
Karly Adair, a student at Pinetree Secondary, presented the valedictory address or Siyam at the recently held Aboriginal Education Honouring Ceremony. Her remarks helped reinforce for me the value of our work and the impact we as a community have on young learners. She graciously has granted permission for me to reprint her speech.
Thanks to Karly and through her words I would like to again thank you all for the efforts you make in helping our learners find “Success in their lives.” Karly’s words remind us of who we serve, the importance of our Dream and the impact we have.
“Each of us carries a fire within ourselves. The strengths of our fires reflect our experiences, associations and knowledge. We are taught at a very early age to let go of any distractions of the day by making peace within ourselves, so that we can nurture and maintain our fire. We are taught the necessity of balance as shown in the medicine wheel; to take care of ourselves by ensuring we tend to our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs. Every student you see before you has a fire burning bright.
Throughout our lives we die a thousand deaths and begin a thousand new lives with every journey we take. At every stage in our education whether it was completing preschool, primary school, and now high school we begin a new journey, and a new life.
Our latest journey began four years ago when we, the class of 2012 took our first steps into the terrifying place we know as high school. We left our middle schools as the cream of the crop, the highest ranking, the top of the mill…however when we started grade nine we were quickly informed that this was no longer the case. Once again we were at the bottom of the food chain and had to work our way up, and prove ourselves. Through all the challenging subjects, through the drama, and through the years we climbed up the clichéd ‘ladder of success’ to become the great looking, intelligent students you see before you now.
As a young generation starting new independent lives we continually face challenges – how we view them defines us. It is whether we choose to see the challenges as stepping-stones or as obstacles. If we choose to see them as obstacles, then the challenges we face will be viewed as problems – problems that need to be overcome along with all the negative connotations associated with problems. We however, choose to see challenges as stepping-stones – opportunities that we have encountered along the way for us to use, to "step on" so that we can achieve more, develop further and ultimately actualize more of our goals! We need to create a vision whereby our name becomes synonymous with excellence, innovation, honor, integrity and outstanding quality and service. That’s it – we need to promise less and deliver more…every time. If we keep our vision simple yet goal focused – then we will have turned defining our vision into a stepping-stone, one which we will use to reach even greater heights. Our entire schooling has been a great stepping stone: one that will take us to new places, and bring us to new goals.
All of the knowledge and experiences will no doubt be valuable to us as we continue on our journeys. They say hindsight is always 20/20… looking back through all of the schooling, on all of the adventures we’ve been on, the times we’ve been lost or scared, the good and the bad… all of this has come together in a way that never made sense at the time to create the individuals you see before you. After all it is our experiences that make us who we are. However I think that the most important thing that we have learned over the last four years is that we can do anything we set our minds to. We are the future generation, with unlimited opportunity, and we are willing and capable of not only contributing to society, but of making a difference and changing our world.
We have to take a moment to thank our families, teachers and community for teaching us and for showing how we can all grow as individuals as well as a group. It is they who showed us that we have the ability to reach for the stars, and to hold them in our hands.
So now we are graduates. We are going to begin a new life, out in the real world, doing real things. I bid you all wish us luck and give your support because frankly we have earned it. You should all be proud of the loved ones you see here today for they have started a life long journey filled with knowledge, integrity, honor and freedom. Nobody is perfect – we’ll keep working on that. We have our moments – but I suspect that underneath it all – we’re all kinda special! I would like to close this speech with a quote: -White Elken once said ‘When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.’ We the class of 2012 accept this challenge with open arms and open minds.”
Thanks for your support of the learners we serve. Enjoy your summer and let’s return prepared to move forward with our “Dream - Learning Without Boundaries”
“In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” - Andre Gide