Good Friday Afternoon, Everyone
I recognize that receiving a Friday afternoon blog post from me breaks with my normal practice, but I have decided I want to send it today and not Monday morning; I believe you will understand.
Working in an organization that is made up almost exclusively of people, who work for and with people, can often be among the most rewarding and gratifying experiences a human being can have. Memories created, moments of inspiring success stories witnessed, and incredible friendships built.
However, on this last point, the legacy of building friendships and relationships can at certain moments….also be the most heart breaking. Tracy Morwood, Grade 1 Teacher at Valleyview Public School in Kenora passed away last evening, of cancer. Her cancer was so fast and came on so aggressively that I actually cannot ever think of an occasion where a person was attacked so viciously with this cursed disease. Tracy also taught at King George and Lakewood Public Schools; she was forty something and she leaves behind a devastated son Elliot, and husband Grant. I had my chance to say goodbye to Tracy on Tuesday afternoon before I went to the Board meeting, and grateful I did, because I would not have been given another chance. Interestingly enough, while she was so medicated for pain, she still had her wits about her and was able to coherently know what was happening. She looked at me as I gave her a hug and she said to me “You came to say good bye, Sean”; it wasn’t a question but rather a statement.
I have had many thoughts about what I might say, but as your colleague and an educator myself, I can tell you I have been through my share and then some, of tragedies. And it never gets easier; or do I not experience heart-break myself. In that way, I suppose writing this blog post is somewhat therapeutic for me, admittedly.
Our whole system is comprised of and made great by individuals who make the lives of others extraordinary, especially children. It also is made great by unmatched influences of human beings on each other. It also, I think, explains why we cry at graduations when someone we really don’t know crosses the stage and looks like the have beaten the odds; it’s why we go home at night distraught over whether the kids in front of us each day are going to be safe when they leave….or even if they will return to class on Monday morning? And it also is why we cry when we lose someone, someone who is part of our family. When we lose someone like Tracy Morwood.
This past week I was in Toronto with the trustees for an annual event of the Ontario Public School Boards Association symposium. I also managed to get away twice while there to go to the Ministry of Education’s Queen’s Park offices. I had some unfinished Special Education funding and capital planning business to attend to and that needed to be addressed. While away I was presented a really unique opportunity, but when I looked at my beloved Keewatin-Patricia, what was glaringly obvious was that the greatest and most amazing opportunities are right here at home! People have bought into the KPDSB vision of “Kids First”, they have bought into Efficacy and advocacy, they have bought into each other and they have determined that the future for us has never ever been brighter and more hopeful. To my staff particularly in Kenora, please remember this last point; there is cause for optimism and even in the difficult days ahead…the sun will most certainly shine again😊!!
Recent events in the Board have risen our profile and our presence in the region and province. Our administration is pleased, our parents and communities are pleased, our trustees are pleased…..(and wait for it!) I am proud, very proud. This unusual Friday afternoon blog post will be different than the others, not just because of its timing, but also because of what initiated it, the loss of one of our own and the collective hurt we feel as a system.
The days are getting longer, certainly warmer, and reassuringly brighter! And during the night skies, well, there now will be a bit of added brightness as a new star has joined the ranks. And all of us who knew her, are the better for it.
Have a wonderful weekend.