Everything comes to an end.
Some things end predictably – like the way the last day of school comes after Fun Day, after the final assembly and with report cards. But even then, the quiet hallways in the school are always a little haunting – the long anticipated summer vacation brings with it the echoes of the children and teachers who have moved on.
Other things don’t end predictably, at least not quite how or when we expect. This is my final newsletter. After six years at one school I cannot be completely surprised to be moving on, but earlier this year, I would have thought I had a year, or two, or three left at Doncaster. My new job will be interesting, but right now leaving here looms large.
In any case, endings are part of life, and one of the central lessons from endings is how to leave as much good, take as much learning, and move on as gracefully as we can.
The good things at Doncaster are easy to find. Teachers here work hard and they care deeply about the students they teach. We have two main struggles as I can see. One, common to all teaching, is that no matter how much time we put in to a lesson, we know that if we had put in another hour or two (or six) we could have helped one more child understand the idea just a little bit better. There is no finite limit to how much we could do, so we do the best we can. The second is that education is changing because the world is changing, and since no one knows exactly how, we have to use judgment, co-operation and educated guesses to try to change in the ways our children will need.
The students at Doncaster are wonderful young people, full of great kid-energy and desire to learn. One of the ultimate goals of an elementary school is to have students leave grade five as curious and interested in the world as they were when they came in in Kindergarten – but with a broader understanding and more tools with which to keep learning added in.
The parent community at Doncaster is also terrific—in that sense I feel like I should be the envy of other principals! The families in the Doncaster community have such a nice mix of interest and support along with respect and understanding. I talk a lot with the students about what good citizenship is. I think our families have that figured out pretty well.
To help Doncaster teachers, students and families try to make our school work well today and adapt to continue to do so in the future, I have done what I thought was right. I hope it has made a difference. I will miss you very much and I will try to keep with me all the things you have taught me about education and humanity.
James Hansen, Principal/Directeur
École Doncaster Elementary