Everyone Has a Story!

Not picture of family members

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to spend an evening with just me and my dad. After dinner we came across an old family photo of my grandfather and my great uncles when they were in their early twenties and thirties. This photo seemed like several other old family photos I had seen before; a posed photo with family members standing side by side in two rows facing the camera. My dad began sharing stories about each family member in the photo. During the conversation I learned so much about relatives I had never had the opportunity to meet. He shared moments of humour, tragedy, loss, and resilience. I developed a great respect for the history in the picture. Listening to my dad’s stories about my great uncles helped me to remember that everyone has a story that is far more reaching than anyone could possibly understand by looking at a single photo. I realized that, prior to listening to my dad, I saw each individual in a single dimension. It is natural to look at someone and create a story. Upon reflection we must be aware that we are at risk of creating a single story that does not reflect the true essence of that person.

I have been thinking deeply about some of the stories we might create at school; for the student that never completes homework, or who regularly disrupts the learning of others; the parent who never signs the planner, does not attend parent-teacher interviews or does not return notes on time; the co-worker who is frequently absent from work or who never seems to engage with other staff. Do we create negative stories for these individuals and is the story we create accurate or complete?

Realistically, it may not be possible to deeply understand everyone’s story. What is possible, in even in the briefest of human encounters, is to recognize that everyone has a story that is more complex than could likely be understand in the context of the workday. We can recognize that the story we do not know may be getting in the way of someone presenting their best self. Creating negative stories for others only builds barriers. Being open to recognizing that we do not know everyone’s story puts us in a position to better understand their story and to re-frame our responses to their actions in ways that may positively impact their story.

Do you have  a story that totally changed when you heard additional facts?

Dr. Seuss Has the Answer!

seussThe last couple of days of the school year is naturally accompanied by many goodbyes and sometimes tears.  Last night, I had the honour of saying goodbye to our grade 8s as they begin a new chapter in their school lives. This afternoon, several goodbyes were shared amongst students and staff; some whom we will see again September and some who are moving on to new communities. Dr. Seuss (who can say the most powerful things using the simplest words) gives some great advice:

“Don’t cry because it is over.  Smile because it happened.”

Life is filled with many ups and some downs and school life is no different.  Our “ups” this year were countless and includes our school’s focus on mathematics and inquiry which brought us to new and exciting places in our learning journey.  Innovation was an ongoing theme as we investigated new ways to collaborate, create and inspire.  Community continued to be a focus as we hosted the board wide launch of Education Week and raised thousands of dollars through our Annual Dinner and Silent Auction to support the students of Emily Stowe.  Of course there were some difficult times. We will always cherish memories of Abbygale Fleet, a schoolmate who passed away in January.  At times, students worked through conflicts and sometimes there were days where things did not always go as we had hoped. Hopefully even the difficult times helped us to learn something about ourselves.

As the school year comes to a close, I hope that as everyone reminisces about the 2014-2015 school year we will all heed Dr. Seuss’ words and be smiling because it happened!!

Wishing you a wonderful summer and looking forward to September!!

Lisa Munro