We always refer to our Sir Arthur Currie staff as our school family, which is a simple word that encompasses complex meanings. “Welcome to the SAC Family” and “We’re thrilled that you selected Sir Arthur Currie as your school family” are phrases that we regularly use to welcome members. On various occasions throughout the school year, we’ll make an announcement that says, “Please meet in the front foyer for a family photo on the staircase”. There is intentionality in using that word as we know that most of us spend more time with our school family than we do with our own family throughout the week, and we want to create the conditions where we treat each other like family.
Following a Google search, I landed upon this definition, which captures those familial ties which may not necessary be bound by blood, adoption, or marriage.
“Family means having someone to love you unconditionally in spite of you and your shortcomings. Family is loving and supporting one another even when it’s not easy to do so. It’s being the best person you could be so that you may inspire your loved ones. Family doesn’t see color, race, creed not culture it sees heart.”
Just like any family, we have our share of personalities, idiosyncrasies, strengths, pet peeves and mountains of sheer glee and valleys of frustration. But at the end of the day, we have learned (as a family who has grown from an initial 20 individuals to 100 in a few short years) that we all have a common goal. We all want what is best for our students and ultimately for each other. We know that how we speak about each other, how we support and inspire each other and how we navigate those disagreements of philosophy are always on display. Our students and by proxy our broader community are looking to us to demonstrate what family means.
The concept of our staff as a family isn’t a new one and it’s one that I’ve probably touched on in past posts, but the other day I had a lovely visit from one of our families and our conversation was one of the amazing “Aha” moments in connection to the theme of family and it just happen to coincide with something happening within my own family. My daughter, her husband and their daughter have been living in the east end of London for the past couple of years. It is about a 40 -45 minute drive depending on traffic. They both work west of London and childcare is also west of London. Last week they celebrated purchasing a lovely home west of London, in Strathroy, which brings them 10 minutes to her in-laws, 15 minutes to our front door (which is also her place of work) and 5 minutes to his place of work. With my work family, we were talking about the power of being surrounded by family and what an incredible gift it is.
In my past school communities, most of the homes surrounding the school and within the catchment area were well established. For many of our families, they had attended the school as a child themselves and now they were registering their own children. The school was a part of the community, but not necessarily the heart of the community.
However, Sir Arthur Currie is situated in a brand new subdivision and so many of our families are either new to the area from the GTA or new to Canada, which brings an incredibly rich diversity.
During my conversation with this family, they shared that they had left their home country in order to expose their children to the Canadian school system. But in doing so, it meant that they needed to leave all of their family.
So, to them, our school was not just a place to send their children each day, our school was an extension of their family, and they were so appreciative of how we loved and nurtured their children. It was one of those moments when you stop and realize the importance of the work that we are blessed to do each and every day. Families trust us with their most valued possession. They trust that we will take care of their children, that we will love their children (which means holding them accountable for actions/words and creating many moments of celebration) and that we will do our best to prepare them to be contributing members of society.
To those families who think of us as family, please know how seriously we take that responsibility and how honoured we are.