To be a Kid Again!

Good Morning, Everyone!

As you open your in-box this morning, most of you will be less than a week away from our annual March Break, mid-winter recess…or for many, time to rest and catch up. Catch up on reading, exercise, or maybe even sleep!! March Break begins officially a week from this morning, but in many eyes it will be this Friday around 3:30, right???!!

 Have a terrific March Break and enjoy your time away if you are going to be making the break, a true “breakaway”. The solid stretch of time between January and March Break is always the longest and most grueling un-interrupted block of time in the educator’s calendar in my mind. I think for the Northern Ontario educator’s calendar…even more so! But we have made it and when you come back, there will only be one week of March left, the month of April, then Easter, and then onward to May Long Weekend and the opening of fishing season…such is the life of the Northern Ontario “redneck” educator I suppose?!

 And speaking of Northern Ontario and symbolism, there is nothing more “northern small town-ish” for many then the scene and memories of an outdoor rink, shovelled off lake or pond, and a good game of boot hockey. Such as this was two weeks ago in my hometown of Kenora when we hosted “Hockey Day in Canada” for four days, resplendent with red and white of the Hockey Day in Canada colours and pictures of Don Cherry, Ron McLean, the Stanley Cup, and of course…Lanny McDonald everywhere (Cassie Campbell too!)!! Perhaps most memorable though (for me anyways) was on the morning of February 16th, a Thursday, when both as the DOE and more importantly as an alumni of Beaver Brae Secondary School, I got to sit in the bleachers of the BBSS gymnasium with 1000 students and staff and watch as Ron McLean asked us to cheer in the Stanley Cup! I sat beside Pauline Martin and her BBSS Broncos Girls’ Hockey Team. I then watched Lanny McDonald enter and joined the entire gym singing a hockey hero of mine “Happy Birthday” to # 7 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yes he won a Stanley Cup with Calgary, but he will always be #7 for Toronto!

Later in a chance conversation with Lanny McDonald as I lined up impatiently with dozens of other “kids” (or as one 10 year old told me in line “You don’t have any rank here Monteith; get in line!”), I shared with one of my heroes that I actually had met him many years ago with my Dad outside the back of the Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens. Waiting during a cold February night hoping to get an autograph of McDonald, Mike Palmateer, Tiger Williams, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull, and of course #27 Darryl Sittler!! I got them all that night as they entered the back entrance of the Gardens after the team had their supper at steakhouse across the street before playing the Minnesota North Stars; the Leafs won that game 4-2. I remember it well because it was the first game I ever went to; I still remember Harold Ballard, the Leafs surly owner sitting in his own private owner’s box with Paunch Imlach. I also recalled when talking with him, that later in that same year when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Wilf Paiment; the devastation I felt! How could that happen? And the same night that it did, Darryl Sittler tearing the “C” off his jersey…in protest of his friend’s untimely departure.

Now I realize that many reading this will either: 1) remember exactly what I am talking about and nod as they recall their own memories, 2) could care less about hockey and the Leafs in general and likely not even have read this far in my post, or 3) represent that crowd of people in the system born in the 90’s and whom I am learning much about these past months referred to as “Millennials” and may have absolutely no idea of any of these players, the names or what this even about.

So why am I sharing with you about my own little “Sean” nostalgia?

Because I found myself a couple of weeks back along with hundreds of other kids that Thursday morning in the BBSS gym, wearing my own Team Canada (1967 Edition), beaming with enthusiasm, my chin in my hands listening to people I remembered well as a boy. And for over an hour, I didn’t feel like the Director of Education; but rather I felt like a little boy again, who had no worries or cares in the world. Oh to be young again like that! But recognizing that is not going to happen, the next best thing is to be close to kids like many of you are daily! The enthusiasm that comes from a school and school events, is nothing short of magical, it really is! I could have wrote today about the recent changes to Sr Admin, or the restructuring that has now been almost implemented. Or I could have talked about Efficacy and Strategic Planning etc…..I might have even talked about En Compass, or even the recent Minister’s visit….
(However, as part of our new communication approach for Efficacy you will find the minutes of last week’s meeting and Terms of Reference attached; I will endeavor to do this with every blog I send out.)

But no, as we head into our March Break, I wanted to share how for a brief few moments a couple of weeks back, I wasn’t thinking of any of those things. I was simply enjoying an experience in my alma mater, watching legends speak and reminding me of a time when I was a little boy again, traveling to his first big league game with his Dad, and everything around was good and free of problems and challenges. When the event was done at BBSS that morning I went back to the office and returned to the files and emails waiting impatiently for me there; but no matter, I had had the chance to feel like a kid again.

So this March Break, forget work, forget your challenges you face in the real sense of the word…let yourself be a kid again and allow yourself to smile an innocent smile and feel what any 8 year old should; a carefree world with adults there making sure you will have memories that someday will catch you, with chin in hand and a grin from ear to ear.

Have a wonderful March (mid-winter) Break!