1….. Thanks, Everyone. For Everything.

To the Prince Charles School Community

This is farewell.  This is not goodbye.

I’m writing this around 11:00 pm on the night before I finish my career as an educator in Abbotsford.  I started writing this quite a while ago.  I’m having trouble finishing it.

These are random, heartfelt thoughts from a guy who has great difficulty saying goodbye. While I’m so excited for the next chapter in my life, closing out this one right now is proving harder than I ever thought it might be.  When I think why, it’s quite simple.

It’s all your fault.

So, here goes….

Thanks.

Yep, that’s it.  Thanks.

Thanks to everyone.

Thanks for everything.

I consider myself very fortunate.  I come from a wonderful family.  I have a wonderful family.  I’ve been able to pursue a career that I’ve been both passionate about and in which I’ve been very fortunate.  Thirty-three plus years of doing something I love and had the opportunity of working with, and for, extraordinary people.  I don’t use that word, lightly, extraordinary….that’s what you are.

The last few months of deep reflection have given rise to wonderful memories and a realization of just what I was really alluding to when I so often said ‘Ours is a people business’.  Smarmy, yes.  True, yes.  Family, students, staff, parents, community members….extraordinary.

While I’ll freely name some, I won’t try to begin listing more names of people I’ve met and shared so much with on this incredible journey, that, I’m coming to realize, has been my life’s work. Trying to name names would be incredibly unfair and, at this point, quite impossible. I’d forget someone for sure.  You know who you are.  I hope you know how much you’ve meant to me.  How to try and thank everyone?  From the endless support of my wife, Heidi, to the encouragement of our three kids: Daniel, Mark, and Krista; from the camaraderie of fellow staff members to the patience and dedication of many mentors; from the hundreds of students from whom I learned so much while trying to share some knowledge to the countless parents that were there to help, challenge, advocate, support and be a part of the education system in so many ways.

Thank you.  So simple but, please, read those two words again…and again.  I really mean it.  Thank you.  If you and I worked together, shared a classroom, sat on a committee, talked on the phone, organized something, laughed, cried, learned, were frustrated, celebrated, disagreed, or crossed paths in any other of the thousands of ways we might have over the last three decades….thank you.

For my own sake, I’ve listed the schools I’ve worked in below and the years I worked there.  Call it closure, call it my own way of facing the reality that is today, my last day working in the profession that has been so fulfilling for me, provided me with a wonderful living, allowed me to be creative, to be a part of a community, to grow and be challenged, to touch the lives of others, and to be touched by so many incredible people, and to feel like I’ve done something worthwhile and meaningful.

1980-1981        Brantford Elementary, Burnaby

1981-1983        Simpson Elementary, Abbotsford

1983-1984        Simpson/Ross Elementary Schools

1984-1985        Clearbrook Elementary

1985-1987        Chief Dan George Elementary

1987-1990        W. A. Fraser Elementary

1990-1991        Blue Jay Elementary

1991-1994        Mt. Lehman Elementary

1994-1997        Bradner Elementary

1997-2004        Blue Jay Elementary

2004-2011        Terry Fox Elementary

2011-2013        Prince Charles Elementary

I’d like to publicly thank the Abbotsford Board of School Trustees.  They have been a wonderful employer, a supportive and encouraging employer that has and continues to provide opportunities for growth and an environment that encourages lifelong learning and teamwork in what can be a most challenging profession.  They have been patient, flexible and supportive throughout my entire career.  Many thanks.

Parents, staff members, colleagues, and, of course, kids…students, thank you. Collectively, you have helped shape who I am, provided direction, support, food for thought, clarity of purpose, challenges, wonderful, wonderful memories, friendships, and a true sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

I hope to share many of my memories in the years to come.  The actual processing of so many years of great experiences might well take some time but I intend to write these memories down.  Perhaps you’ll recognize yourself in there somewhere…I hope so.  It’ll all be good.  I have truly loved going to work each day and you have all been so much a part of it all.

So, it’s time to move on to new challenges.  I guess now I can really relate to the former student I ran into out in the community one day.  He looked up at me, kind of turned his head to one side, trying to figure out whether he really knew me or not, and finally asked, “Didn’t you used to be Mr. Village?”

Yep, that’s me.

Thank you all.

God bless.

I know you’ve seen this attached to my school emails for the last month but, in honour of my Dad and my great respect for all with whom I’ve crossed paths with over the last 33 plus years:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One of those days…

JugglerI was visited by a young vice-principal yesterday who was chatting with a number of the ‘veterans’ (I like that term WAY better than ‘the old guys’) as she worked to glean some knowledge from those of us who have been in the business for a while.  One of her questions was about time management and how I planned my day as an administrator.  I’m afraid my immediate response was laughter.

Ironically, a day after her visit became ‘one of those days’ with a whack of things happening at the school and a few surprises that keep our jobs interesting and why the term ‘time management’ always brings a smile to the faces of building administrators (and teacher, for that matter).

SpiderFrightAn accident on the freeway delayed three of our staff members so I was delegated to deal with a grade five class until the teacher arrived.  While we waited for the opening bell to ring, I was showing a substitute Teaching Assistant around the school as it was her first time in our building and TA assignments can be, at times, daunting.  Immediately following the ‘welcoming’ bell, a teacher races up to me in quite a panic.  ‘There’s a HUGE tarantula on my ceiling and I’M not dealing with it!’  As I’m on my way to deal with 30 grade five students I tell her I’d be back as quickly as possible.  I get an ‘I’m sure you will’ look from her as I duck around the corner.  (I don’t like spiders, either).

So, giving quick instructions to the surprised kids at the grade five door to get inside, put their student planners on their desks, do some Speed Games activities in the computer lab, and I’d be right back.   Racing back to the classroom expecting to see one of my staff members wrestling with a huge arachnid, I’m informed that the Hand In Hand Daycare lady had already dealt with the problem.  Needing no more information than that, I head back to the computer lab hoping that 30 preteens weren’t tearing the place apart.  All is good.

From there, the rest of the day went past in kind of a blur.  For those in education I’ll share Danfromthebacka few scary phrases:  “In Day”, “Report Cards”, “Computer Issues”, “Audit” and “I’m not feeling well”.  You mix that in with mystery report cards from another school printing on our photocopier, setting up for Movie Night, and wondering who really does keep putting paper towels in the urinals, and you’ve got the basic reasons why my first response to the young lady’s question about Time Management was laughter.

Never a dull moment.  Never write in your day planner in ink. Expect the unexpected.  It’s a great job with no two days the same.  But Time Management?  I don’t think so.  Now, what was I supposed to be doing this morning???

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Only Constant Is Change…

 Principal copy         So, with a few strokes of the keyboard, a few very difficult strokes of the keyboard, the next phase of life begins.  It truly does seem several life times ago that my career began.  A small school in Burnaby took a chance on a rookie teacher, partly, I think, because I was a ‘Burnaby boy’ and the principal at the time was a real sports nut.  Perhaps he saw in me the chance to back away from all the teams he was coaching.  He was right.

          Flash forward to 2013 and 11 schools later, the time has come for another change.  Certainly, there are too many memories to share at one go, but one of my real goals is to make the time to jot those memories down, share the laughs, the victories and the challenges.  Simply put:  It’s been great.

          Below is what I shared in our school’s newsletter yesterday.  A tough piece of writing for someone who truly does enjoy writing.  Thanks to everyone.  More to come.

Upcoming Staff Change At Prince Charles

“A Little Update From Mr. Village”

                  After over 33 years in public education, I’ve made the very difficult decision to retire from the school system.  My last day at Prince Charles will be on December 20, 2013 with ‘official’ retirement beginning at midnight on the 31st.  I’ll save thanks and other ramblings for another time but with the news filtering out slowly, I thought it best most of you hear it sooner than later.

                  As the date draws closer, the School Board Office will be appointing some lucky individual to take the reins of Principal come the New Year.  I say ‘lucky’ because this truly is a wonderful place to come each day.  The staff is dynamic and professional, the students great to work with, and the parent community among the finest I’ve ever had the pleasure with which to work.

                  Thank you for all your support and I look forward to working with all of you over the course of the next few months.

 Danfromtheback

                                                                                                                              Sincerely,

                                                                                                                                              Dan Village

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dan and the Beanstalk

Following a most successful paper airplane building session with Mrs. Hiebert’s Plantedkindergarten class, I was invited back to help plant some seeds for their bean plants.  Young students are SO patient and Mrs. Hiebert is SO trusting!  Clearly, she has not seen my efforts at gardening.  As my favourite Herman comic doctor said, “I’ve got no luck with living things”.

To be entrusted with the planting of such an important undertaking as the ‘Bean Project’, well, I was honoured.  With table set up in the hallway, two buckets of dirt, four spoons, one spray bottle of water and a sample of how the finished product should look (Mrs. Hiebert is also very wise), we began.  Now, I’ve been in education a long time but one forgets how precise one has to be when dealing with 5 year olds.  Evidently “put a bunch of dirt into your glass” means different things to different 5 year olds.  Evidently “put two big scoops of dirt into your glass” means different things to different 5 year olds.  You begin to see a pattern here?

Well, after a brief but steep learning curve, we had some dirt in glasses (along with a significant amount on the table) and were ready to begin the planting process.  Three seeds were to be placed carefully into the glass to ensure the seeds could be seen from the outside.  Again, the terms ‘placed’ and ‘carefully’ carried different meanings to my young students.  It gets better.  The seeds and dirt had to be sprayed with water to ensure proper propagation.  I had some trouble clearly explaining THAT word to them, as well.

GardeningBy the fourth group of students, I had finally mastered the proper wording, scoop of dirt sizes, seed placement, water spraying, and dirt topping.  I was exhausted.  Twenty minutes of pressure, pressure, pressure.  Can you imagine working with 22 five year olds all at once???  I’m on record as supporting Kindergarten Teachers as being the highest paid educators in the system.  Anyone arguing that point should try planting seeds with 5 year olds.  Nap time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Question I’d Like To Ask Mr. Village….

I had the opportunity to teach in one of our grade five classes today.  While ALL our BlankSheetstudents are wonderful, we at Prince Charles are truly enjoying our Grade Five leaders this year.  They are a dynamic bunch with wonderful leadership skills and some great insights into what happens here on a daily basis.

With that in mind, I did one of my favourite writing activities with them (after all, Writing IS our goal for the year).  Among the activities is the starter statement: If I could ask Mr. Village one question, it would  be…..

 

I had to laugh at some of the questions but, I promised I’d respond in my daily writing so, here goes:

Do you like sports?
Why not start with an easy one?  I love sports, all kinds, all seasons.  Growing up, I played mostly soccer, basketball and baseball but also enjoy tennis, badminton, swimming, football,…. Get the idea?  I’m still involved in soccer, mostly, teaching and mentoring new referees, assessing ‘older’ ones, and generally helping out where I can.

How long have you been a principal?                                                                                                 Well, this is my second year at Prince Charles, before that I was at Terry Fox for seven years, Blue Jay for seven years, Bradner for three and Mt. Lehman for three.  Whew, that’s 22 years as a principal.  Before that I was a vice-principal for six years.

SoakingDo you like pickles?                                                                                        

Yep, love ‘em!  A nice cold Gherkin or Dill Pickle is a favourite snack.

What is a Scottish Mist?A little history for the reader…..One of my MAJOR roles here at the school is deciding whether or not it’s going to be an ‘in’ or ‘out’ day.  Given our BC weather, I lean heavily on the ‘out’ days as, we don’t melt in rain, and usually it’s just the adults that complain about the wet weather.  The now famous ‘Scottish Mist’ kind of encompasses the whole range from ‘barely a drizzle’ to ‘hmm, might need an umbrella’ weather situations.  In other words, be prepared to go outside despite the weather!

There were plenty of other great questions.  Another time….principal-copy.gif

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hallway Walk Part 2

I have no real excuse for not being able to write a daily entry over the course of this year. IMG_9095    With kindergarten students in the building, one could write an hourly update with the things they do and say.  Their perspective on the world is not only unique, it’s quite refreshing.  Robert Fulghum had it right when he wrote ‘All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten’.  We just have to pay a little more attention to what’s going in their world.

IMG_9098Attached are some examples of where they are coming from when it comes to Social Responsibility.  Mrs. Hiebert’s writing ‘starter’ was ‘It’s okay to….’ and, just from the examples shown here, you can see that their thinking is inclusive, creative, artsy, and focusing on the Virtues we encourage here at Prince Charles.

Another perspective says ‘It’s okay to be yourself’, a IMG_9097concept that says to me I won’t be judged for who I am, what I wear, or some of the things I do.  Kindergarten really develops the social aspect of learning and being part of a team.  It is evident in all our primary classes that this is a huge part of every day and this is reflected in this child’s view of the writing assignment.

IMG_9096Finally, ‘It’s okay to dance’…clearly, this child has never seen ME dance but the thought is, again, one that says ‘let me be me and I’m gonna dance if I want to’.  That’s kinda cool.

Take a moment yourself and jot a few of your own ‘It’s okay to’…….Fire them off to me at PrinceCharles@sd34.bc.ca

It’s okay to share.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hallway Walk Part 1

IMG_9091Our School Goal for the last number of years has been Writing.  A sweeping goal, for sure, but also one that really gives the teachers and students some freedom in creating and completing the objectives of the goal.  It would take 20 blog entries a day to cover the myriad of topics touched upon in journal writing, language arts assignments, daily writes, poetry lessons, and other items such as speech topics and their content.  Given the right time and motivation, students can write some pretty incredible stuff.

I have often commented, okay, bragged, about the quality of the art displays gracing our hallways.  I’ll figure out a way to post some of the IMG_9092great artwork that is currently up.  But, I digress from my original focus.  With writing on my mind, I began a search for today’s blog and found a mix of Personal Writing and Interesting Artwork.  What I found was a display from Ms. Nowak’s class with the most intriguing title: What If I Had Animal Teeth?

The students did a little self-portrait like those seen here and then a description of the kind of animal teeth they chose, how that animal functioned with those teeth, and then how THEY would function with those same teeth.  Included were beaver teeth, tiger teeth, hippo teeth, and shark teeth.  Some of the ‘human’ aspects of having animal teeth included being able to eat more food, only having to brush your teeth once in your life, scaring brothers and sisters, being able to move small cars if they broke down but, my favourite, had to be the shark’s teeth attribute if we humans had those kind of teeth.

IMG_9094Bailey wrote that she would love to have shark’s teeth…..just think of the many, many, many, many visits from the tooth fairy!  There’s a kid really thinking from a long term financial point of view!  Well done, kids and Ms Nowak.  A wonderfully creative writing and art activity.

I encourage parents to visit our hallways and view the fantastic work on display there.  Pictures cannot do them justice.  They truly are works of art and a wide variety of topics, visuals, and written work.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment