March 4th-6th, 2019
My final 3 days at WKE (William Konkin Elementary) in Burns Lake were crazy and hectic trying to complete as many projects and tasks as possible; while also making sure I said goodbye to all classes and staff, and assisted in transitioning for the teacher returning from Maternity leave. I was only the TL at WKE for 6 months and a week, so when this week arrived I was truly surprised at how deep the connections were with staff and students; and how heartfelt and emotional this goodbye was.
The staff and students here, lead by an amazing educationally astute and inspiring A.O., have totally embraced me as part of their school family since my arrival September 1st. I was hired as a District Teacher-Librarian/Learning Commons Specialist for Burns Lake based at two schools. I worked evolving the Library into a Learning Commons at WKE every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday then moved to a second school each Thursday and Friday. I will write a separate post for my second school following this blog post.
During class lessons I read a final FN story or lead a S.T.E.M. challenge, in addition to a google earth lesson about where I was heading after I departed from Burns Lake.
Many students have never driven to Prince Rupert or taken the Northern Expedition Ferry south to Port Hardy. Next, I used Google maps to travel south from Port Hardy to Nanaimo. Students were also quite fascinated by the distance from Vancouver to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. As one student pointed out “Wow! You’re going half way around the world!”. Other students at WKE are global travelers, and one French Immersion student shared a travel book of Vietnam with me as her family backpacked there last year!
Several classes arrived with Goodbye cards which resulted in me becoming choked up and emotional! My correct surname appears to be quite the challenge, but the love was so evident! The grade 4/5 class even created a huge “book card” based on “Shi-shi-etko” a story about a young girl preparing for Residential school, which I had read to them earlier this year. These students toured the school and had nearly every student and staff member sign names and/or messages inside the pages! It was one of the most precious gifts and moments I have experienced in my 34 years of teaching!
During my final 3 days the hugs, individual cards, and loving messages kept occurring from so many students… A certain grade 7 boy who has been quite challenging and not easy to engage, made a point of hanging around the hall by the Learning Commons door on my final 3 days until I noticed him each day. Our routine went like this… I would say “Hello”. He would ask me “How’s your day going?” I’d say “Great. Thanks”. Then “How about your day?” He would say “Okay” then walk away. Those few moments and daily interaction with that student meant the world to me!
In addition to the 7 English classes at WKE, there are also 3 French Immersion classes and Carrier lessons occur one day a week. Another really neat part of the WKE program each Monday was our Eagle Groups time. For 20 minutes each Monday, staff have an Eagle Group with 7-8 Eaglets in a multi-aged group which meet in a special location to “check in” and learn about positive traits for learning. Thanks for leading this Dave! Four groups always met in the Learning Commons. My group had 1 grade 7 girl, 1 grade 6 FI boy, 1 grade 6 girl, 1 grade 5 FI girl, 1 grade 3 boy, and 2 Kindergarten boys. (7). I will truly miss my Eaglets but am sure they will continue soaring with the new TL.
The school also promotes SNAP math, Blitz Literacy support, Outdoor Education initiatives, lots of Sport teams, and there is Teacher Collaboration blocks every second Wednesday for the last hour of the school day. I learned new ideas and was inspired and energized by all the professional development we received and the assessment initiatives and practices we were held accountable for at this school. Teachers also take turns leading and sharing ideas and strategies. Last session, I was the TL sharing at the collaboration meeting. The Collaboration meeting was officially my last hour of ‘teaching’ at WKE.
At the end of the Collaboration session, I was quite overwhelmed to receive a card, gift and a deeply touching speech by W.K.E. and Francois Lake Principal, Wendy Keleman. When she stated I was “leaving a legacy” I’m sure my tears flowed. I hope they all realize how much I mutually appreciated and benefited from all their love and positive energy too. The gift was a beautiful bowl created in Smithers. I will feel the joy and love from WKE each time I glance upon it or use it in the future. Wendy suggested I open the card later. Good suggestion! The words from this staff touched me deeply and meant more than they could possibly know. I certainly hope these caring people keep contact as they are very special to me.
It was particularly difficult to say goodbye to my Learning Commons Leaders and my positive, compassionate Library Assistant. My Learning Commons Leaders are students in grades 5-7 who met weekly and assisted when I had the Learning Commons open in the mornings before school. Their final projects were creating icons pictures for series in E Picture book section and creating a QR Code Library Scavenger Hunt. During my final week at WKE the Annual Music Festival was being held and many of these same talented students also are Highland Dancers, Biathlon X Country Skiers, and amazing musicians so some were absent from school.
I had the pleasure of working and planning with Suzanne E (enthusiastic Library Assistant) for the final 2 months of school. She is part of the group of employees who travel from Topley each day! Suzanne and I were an incredible team in the Learning Commons. Although our time together was way too short, I am positive we will reconnect again… Each time I see hummingbirds and flowers I will think of her smiling at me!
Ready for this…. I am returning to Burns Lake in Late May! More about that in my next Blog Post!
Au Revoir WKE! It was such a pleasure working with you all in Burns Lake. You are in my heart and soul. You are family! Thank you with love.