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….
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.
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.