As I sit to write this so many thoughts run through my mind. Things I want to say, thoughts I hope to express, and emotions I search to articulate. It is in writing that I tend to find the most clarity and so on the eve of a visit that I will be making to my staff I sit in a quiet room and look to find the words that I need to express all that I hope to share.
After a number of months of consideration I have decided that it is time for me to hang up my administrator hat. I entered the world of school administration in 2006 as an Associate Principal and later served as Principal of two schools that I continue to cherish very much. The experiences over the past 10 years were life-changing. I learned so much! I excelled in some areas and struggled in others, but the one thing that remained steadfast was my passion for teaching and my eagerness to foster positive and supportive relationships, whether that be with students and families, or with the staff that I worked alongside.
And now here I am, literally days away from the end of my second maternity leave and making yet another change. My life and my priorities significantly shifted in 2012 when I was married, and our journey to complete our little family has taught me so much! My world has forever been altered and I couldn’t be more grateful. Having children later in life affords you much wisdom as well as challenges. Both my husband and I have careers that are well established and this has been a blessing. It has also created a unique situation. In my opinion I no longer believe that I can effectively be the leader that a school deserves and that I’ve always been, while also being the mom that I aspire to be. And with that, I couldn’t be more proud of the decision that I have made. We always say that we will put our family first, and I put my chin up as I announce that it is time for me to hang up my hat and return to the classroom.
It is at this point that I promised myself I would make sure to explain one very important thing. In no way, shape, or form do I want people to think that I am making this change because I think teaching is easier than school administration. It absolutely isn’t! It’s just different. For me, working as closely to kids as possible is where I get my passion and excitement. If I’m going to be leaving my own precious kids in someone else’s care while I work, I need to ensure I’m feeling that passion as immediate and as much as possible. Teaching also provides me with a bit more flexibility in terms of when I come and go from school at the start and the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong I have most certainly not forgotten how much work teachers haul back and forth on a nightly basis, but over the years I found that as an administrator so many uncertainties exist at the start and the end of the day and it is our job to stay until the job is done and everyone is taken care of. As a teacher there is a better chance to leave the building as needed upon the close of the school day, even if that means throwing a heavy packed bag of work over your shoulder to pull out hours later when you wish you were sleeping. Sometimes leaving promptly after the bell is the difference between taking your daughter to her dance class, or not. Here’s the other thing, as a school leader you truly take on what I describe as “the weight of the world.” Although I admit that is a bit dramatic, it is however true in many ways. As a bit of a perfectionist and heart on the sleeve kind of person, I was usually unable to switch my admin mind off once I walked through the doors of my home. I carried with me so many burdens and that made it difficult for me to be truly present at home. As teachers we do the same with regards to the kids in our class, but it is a bit more focused and contained. That seems more manageable while I crawl on the floor playing cars at night, zip around the basement pretending to be Spy Barbie or PJ Masks, and wrestle one girl that is crawling around and over me while I try to read a book with great expression to the other.
In a nutshell here’s what I want anyone reading this to know:
- I love my job and I am passionate about my career in education. I have always worked hard and I am proud of all that I have done…but I love my husband and my kids more!
- I have unending respect for educational assistants, support staff of all kinds in schools, and teachers. If you are a teacher that I have worked with at St. Catherine’s School or St. Martha’s, your passion and your skills are a big reason why teaching is so enticing to me once again. You have kept my pull to teach alive by showing me each day what great teaching looks like! You guys rock!
- One element that I will miss most about school administration is my ability to put into action what I believe deep down in my gut to be the best decisions for kids first. I love that I was afforded the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is so to speak and lead the way that I always believed a principal should. My friends back at my old school in Picture Butte knew me as a teacher first…I truly hope I did all of you proud! I hope that my colleagues at both schools will look back on our years together and know how truly invested and sincere I was each step of the way.
- I will sincerely miss the camaraderie and support system that exists amongst the Learning Leadership Team in our school district, as well as my positive working relationships with central office staff. I would hate for anyone to believe that I left administration because I was unhappy or not feeling supported. Holy Spirit School Division is a great district to work in and a pretty unique family of leaders has been built over the years. This is a group that I am sad to leave. With that said, when my girls are bigger I just might look for an empty chair around the table once again.
So where does all of this leave me? I hope to exhale a bit after I talk with my staff tomorrow and allow myself to fully be rid of the feeling of guilt and sadness that I have for leaving such a great team. I think about the decision that has been made and the support that I have and I can’t help but be excited for what lies ahead. I look forward to filling a Division Principal role upon my return to work next week until the end of the school year and with much anticipation I am eager to take my next steps during the following school year. My husband has recently made a similar decision of his own at his job as well. He has found himself a new position that allows him to consistently remain closer to home, and he too will rid himself of some of the added pressures that came with his current management role.
I know in my heart that we are making the right decisions as a family. What is most important is that we are trying. We are trying to find the balance that we all seek. The pure energy and happiness that I felt while watching my oldest daughter in her Early Learning class earlier this year is what started this all. Clarity is gained when you take the time to see what is in front of you. In front of me I see two beautiful girls with big brown eyes filled with innocence, hope, and excitement. I see a husband who also loves our girls with all his might and who believes in me. We both believe to our core that we need to do all that we can for our life as a family every step of the way. We will not only be teaching our girls the importance of working hard in your careers and reaching your goals, but to always remember your priorities along the way and make decisions accordingly. With that my friends, my next chapter begins!