I have now been the acting principal of McNeely for almost three months. During this time, I have been so curious. Who are our families? What matters to them? What do our students like about our school? How do our staff members communicate with one another? What are structures, traditions, rituals and celebrations that define our place? Who holds power and influence? How can we integrate new staff, students and families? What makes McNeely tick? And how does Mrs. Farrow remember everyone's name and story?
Some of the things I have noticed in my scanning of the school are:
- The staff and many of the families have a strong emotional investment in the school.
- There is a sense of pride, history and tradition in the place.
- There is strong relational trust among the staff.
- The students respect their teachers and want to do well.
- It is a place of social, emotional and academic learning, with a multicultural flavour that is appreciated and celebrated.
I have enjoyed being invited to teach in all of the classrooms. The students have been so kind and welcoming. Teachers have been generous and patient in the time they have taken to help me get a grip on how things work in the District and have been very forgiving when I have made mistakes. They have also been open to having conversations about topics such as Mindset and Mindfulness, which are some of my favourite social-emotional topics and lessons.
I think what sums up my experience so far are the smiles I see on the faces of the youngest of our students, when I show up to take them to gym twice a week. To me, that is a measure of my success: the relationships I can build with our 4, 5 and 6-year olds, which is "money in the bank" for years to come. I am so lucky and so grateful.
Change is good.