Last week the staff and students of St. Francis School had to say good-bye and good luck to a valued member of our school community. Due to the numbers in our Early Learning Kindergarten classes we had to let go of Mrs. Dawd, one of our Early Childhood Educators.
Mrs. Workman, our Year 2 teacher, gave the farewell toast and said something that really stood out to me. She said, “Mrs. Dawd, you are leaving our school…but we are more than just a school, we are a family, and we feel like we are losing a member of our family.” I thought this was a great statement and it has resonated with me since.
For most of us family means a place where we feel safe and welcomed. It consists of people who we share our greatest accomplishments and failures with. Families are made up of people who are willing to listen to our hopes and our fears, and provide support to us when needed. Families recognize that we are not perfect, we make mistakes, but most importantly families forgive those mistakes.
So when I think about our school and compare it to a family, I tend to agree and smile proudly at what Mrs. Workman said. I can walk into our staff room during any of our two nutrition breaks and feel like I’m walking into my parent’s kitchen. It’s warm, welcoming, something good is always being cooked (or warmed up) and I always hear laughter. But just like a family, there are times when laughter is not heard.
Families quarrel, as do members on staff. It is okay to disagree, as long as we do so respectfully. It is even okay to argue sometimes, as long as it does not happen regularly so that it poisons the atmosphere of the school. That can never happen. We need to remember to argue and disagree in a caring manner, always putting the feelings of others first. We cannot maintain our strong relationships without effort. Not every day is easy; some are certainly easier than others.
Much like a family, sustaining strong relationships amongst staff requires effort. It requires open communication, trust, and mutual respect. We are very lucky to have established a sense of family at St. Francis School. It permeates through the entire atmosphere of our small school. However it takes the work of everyone on staff, at all times.
We all realize that we had to lose Mrs. Dawd because her expertise and support was required elsewhere. And although we lost a family member at St. Francis, we know she has joined another terrific family just down the street.