I have a formidable work ethic. German on one side and Scottish / Irish on the other. I went from Magee Secondary School to summer French Immersion Program: to UBC; to one year at York University with written consent to transfer credits back to UBC for degree and to discover I had no idea where “back east” was in Canada; back to UBC to finish my Bachelor of Education Degree; to a diploma program while working at Spare Time Childcare Society at David Lloyd George elem. to ensure I wasn’t wasting time while looking for a job as a teacher; to working in SD34 – Abbotsford where I had done my practicum; to SD43 – Coquitlam to work closer in case my baby needed me; to Simon Fraser to expand my horizons as a Faculty Associate; to SD39 -Vancouver as a Vice Principal and then Principal. In the midst of it all, I taught summer school and worked as an online TA, a sessional instructor of the Reading Methods course at SFU and completed my Master of Arts Degree in Education.
Fortunately my passion is Education and I was able to work hard while still maintaining a focus of being there for my family. Working part-time, and scheduling after hours professional responsibilities around the soccer, swimming et al., schedule of my kids was possible. Certainly having a husband with his own company and a Mom who lived with us for 10 years helped. I was able to fly off to attend International Literacy Association Conferences in New Orleans, or Brain Conferences in New York, present in San Francisco or Kelowna and teach in China.
All threads have converged with a focus on my professional life, family and wise financial planning. Buying back pension time from maternity leaves and 9 month contracts at SFU was difficult at the time, but part of that wise financial planning. My mother taught my sister and me very young that you NEVER depend on anyone to provide for you. Those messages from youth provide a lens to see the world but also a subconscious nervousness about future financial stability.
In all fairness, security for my Mom was $20.00 in your wallet in case you needed to take a cab home. She was left with a divorce settlement and child support that never increased after 1964 and left her existing on the edge of poverty. Of course, my reality is very different. And yet, even for me with a pension plan, I sent in my letter of retirement with trepidation. My mind battled with the fearfulness in my heart.
Many people will tell you that you know when it is time to retire. Not so for me. I love instructional leadership. I love my conversations with kids about their learning and about their lives. I love talking to parents about parenting. I love talking to teachers about possibilities for their classrooms and their careers. I love talking to Spare Time staff about the same things. I love talking to Education Assistants about Universal Design.
Certainly no one emerges out of COVID without thinking about their WHY. Simon Sinek resonates for people considering their work lives or their personal lives. COVID has also opened up new avenues for working and pursuing our WHY. The other morning I woke up to Kenny Rogers. Now this was interesting because I am not a grand country and western fan, or a gambler. For me it is reserved for The Calgary Stampede and visiting my sister and her family in Texas. However, the lyrics came back to me from the 80’s loud and clear.
“Know when to hold’em
Know when to fold’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run…”
I woke up laughing. This did not evoke surprise but certainly inquiry from my husband. He is well use to my vivid dreams, and inspiration through lyrics. I’m am feeling particularly excited about retirement from the VSB these days. I will ensure I leave the new principal in good shape with a thorough transition plan to ensure my Livingstone people are in good shape for our seismic mitigation move. Now to be perfectly honest, I may knit more, and I do have my Nanny Keenan’s rocking chair. But, I will embrace new opportunities with excitement, enthusiasm and energy. Time to publish. Time to work in new ways. Time to pivot.
“If you wait until you feel 100% ready to do something you really want, you will be waiting the rest of your life to achieve it. Forget the past. Forget your age. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”