Christmas 2017 is Here

Today, December 21st, 2017 for more reasons than not could easily be considered just another day, a typical Thursday in our schools. My experience and my instinct however, is that today will be anything but normal! And while I assume that the energy of kids will be running high, and fatigue for staff likely a bit lower than normal…the notion that today is one day away from the Christmas and Holiday Season should add a little bit of jump while warming up your vehicle this morning!!

Let me add a couple of more comments about today: First, today is the second last day of school and work for us this 2017. That means that in two days, the long winter’s nap most are looking forward to will be here. It also means that coming back in the New Year will have already taken up a full week of January; arguably the longest month of the year, and giving folks a chance to rest and re-energize. Another observation about today: it is the “Winter Solstice”…meaning that today is the shortest day of 2017 in terms of daylight. It is also one of the main reasons I am sending this post out to you today and not tomorrow. While, today is short and has significantly more darkness than daylight, maybe look at it this way…tomorrow the days start to get longer. In fact, maybe to go even further consider that we are heading into Christmas Break with the days actually getting longer! Just how much?? Well, today is 6 hours and 57 minutes shorter than the June Solstice, June 21st…and folks, we are on our way there after today!

You might laugh at my attempt to simplify the calendar and how it plays with our physiology and internal clocks, but I am telling you, it matters. I also think that I cannot avoid acknowledging (as we say good-bye to 2017) that it has been a typically fast-paced year, and in many homes, a tough year. I always have felt that Christmas and the Holidays were a time for laughter and food, drinks and friends re-acquainting; and I still do. But as I get older, I also see the Holidays for other reasons too.

A time to reflect and time to rest; certainly a time to catch your breath.

In most homes this year at the Holidays, there will be laughter and comraderie; but there will also be tears in other living rooms too. For a number of families, both staff and students, it will be the first Christmas without an immediate loved one there. For all of you that will experience a myriad of emotions including loss this Holiday Season, your KP Family has not forgotten you. And you will find laughter again.

I have used my last blog of the year in previous years to share highlights and even lowlights, but  this year I have saved that for the 2017 Director’s Annual Report. Today however, I want to acknowledge all of you, your work, and your efforts to make us better and especially your efforts to make the lives of kids extraordinary. I also want to acknowledge that committing yourself to the service of kids can be heart-wrenching, and this past year has been no exception. A recent “anonymous” post by a teacher last week in Sioux Lookout about what it means to be a teacher in the North was particularly cerebral and grounding. However, as we enter the Holiday break, I think the best advice I could give as DOE might be to make sure that if you want to sleep in, you do that…and not feel guilty. If you want to read a book, or even a few books, do it. Maybe have a coffee close by with some flavor too?!

Please, unplug from emails and work, it will be there when you come back. I plan on actually doing the same. Admittedly, the best part of my work is visiting schools and talking with staff and kids; last week it included Dryden, Ignace, Savant Lake, Pickle Lake, Sioux Lookout and home to Kenora. But it adds up and us in Senior Administration are not different than you in your classrooms and schools. We too are tired and just as many of you will, we will take full advantage of unplugging these next couple of weeks ourselves.

There are many thoughts that go through a person’s head as you near the end of the year, but with the date in mind, the fact that sugar plums have likely already started to dance in the heads of your students, I will keep it simple and short.

I wish all of you the best; I wish for you two weeks of rest and rejuvenation, two weeks of respite. You all deserve it, please make it happen.

See you in 2018!