I heard a terrific retirement, “do you remember when”, story at the recent Sunshine Coast Teachers’ Association retirement celebration. One teacher, Barry, said that he and his teaching partner, Mike, would often be out on field trips with their students. At various points in the day Barry would be at the front of the group of students and Mike would be watching from the end of the line.  Barry would check in on the students with Mike with a glance back. Mike would quickly flash the, “OK”, signal and on they and their charges would go.

I have an image of the two of them, marching along a path on a field trip or in more regular classroom lessons and activities, checking in with each other as partners as they move through the days of learning and teaching.

I love this simple story. It is a terrific metaphor for who teachers and all educational staff are and what they do.

“Are the kids okay? Are we going in the right direction?”

“Yes! The kids are okay. We’ve got them all.”

Parents invest such trust in their children’s educators. They trust that we will keep their children safe. They trust that we will provide the excellent education that B.C. schools are so well known for. They trust that we will talk with them about academic and social challenges and successes that their children experience at school. They trust that our hearts are in the right place and that their children are our priority. They trust that the kids are okay.

We are in the last couple of weeks of school for 2011/ 2012.  Stories of exciting moments in education are being shared at retirement celebrations and end of the year gatherings. I love to hear the stories of mutual support, of love for students and their learning, of the enthusiasm that makes educators special and makes the work so rewarding. I hear the stories of dedication to public education, to kids and to each other.

Thank you to all staff in our district for a challenging but still wonderful year for students.

Thank you to the retiring staff of SD No. 46. You have dedicated your professional lives to changing students’ lives, to supporting colleagues and to making things better.  You are special, and you have made a difference.

“Are the kids okay? Are we going in the right direction?”

“Yes! The kids are okay. We’ve got them all. “

“Let’s keep going.”

Teachers and Principals gathered with trustees and senior administration at the annual retirement luncheon to celebrate their dedication to students and each other. Best wishes to all!