Friday, 14 June 2013

Farewell to My School

                                                Photo by: Tambako the Jaguar
I have recently accepted a position as a Supervisor of Inclusive Learning  with Edmonton Public Schools. While I am sad to leave my school and all my wonderful students and staff, I am excited to be working with many schools to make each and every school an inclusive community where all children can succeed.  I am not naive to think I can change everyone's thinking in the blink of an eye, but I do know I can offer support to make inclusion a reality for students in our system.

this is a letter I shared with my parents. . .


Dear Parents and Guardians,
As we enter the final month of school, we once again find ourselves nearing the end of another successful year. We have seen our students grow as leaders in many aspects.  They have learned to be more proactive, to put first things first, to begin with the end in mind, to think win win, to seek first to understand and then be understood, to synergize and to sharpen the saw regularly.  Our goal setting conferences set the tone for success for the year and became the anchor for the journey.  Our student leadership team raised funds for clean water in developing countries and led our school in an amazing Leadership Day with guests from all over Alberta.  Our Parent Council and Friends of Rideau Park Society worked in partnership with our school to create a successful and engaging learning environment. I couldn’t be more proud of all that has transpired these past years.  However, I now must share a final good-bye as my 4 year term at Rideau Park will be coming to an end this June. I will be moving to the position of Supervisor of Inclusive Learning with the District as of August 18, 2013.
I would like to express my appreciation for your support over the past four years and to thank you for the honor and privilege of leading the Rideau Park School community. The last 4 years have been an incredibly rewarding journey with numerous successes and challenges, all of which have allowed me to grow so much, both personally and professionally. It is my hope that the school will remain a strong professional learning community that we are becoming and will continue to build leadership capacity in teachers, students, parents and support staff. Each of you has a right and a responsibility to do your part in making this school the best it can be. I encourage you to do so and have faith that you will.
Through the efforts of parents and staff, our students are learning to become contributing citizens, productive workers and competent leaders in the school and in the community. Our focus on the Leader in Me, assessment for learning, individualized learning, and inclusive classrooms are building important strengths in our students that they will take with them through their entire lives. Our staff has strived to create exciting learning environments to build success for each and every one of our students. I see this happening every day in the hallways and classrooms of the school and am certain it will continue.
I look forward to my new assignment in Inclusive Learning, but will always hold a special place in my heart for Rideau Park School.  I will remember the staff and students fondly and I look forward to sharing our successes with other schools looking for strategies to include all students in the learning community.  You will be my model to share!
I came across this quote and wanted to share it with you: “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” As our school community continues on the journey to become a Lighthouse Leader in Me School, a strong professional learning community and an inclusive community where all members are highly valued, our greatest strength will come from believing the in the capacity of each other.

Sincerely und auf wiedersehen,


Brenda Giourmetakis

I have to give credit to Greg Miller for some of the basic structure of this letter because I really did not know how to start or what to say! What would I do without my PLN!  I didn't know how to "break" it to my parents, especially those parents of my exceptional students who "relied" on me to ensure support was in place for their children. However, I have faith that our focus on Inclusion will continue.  Why, just the other day a teacher said to me, "You know, when you got here I didn't think inclusion would work at all. Now, I am worried the new principal will not understand inclusion and I know it is the only way to do this."  WOW! I was truly blown away by this.  I was so happy that we have really made a huge paradigm shift in our belief about inclusion.  I know not everyone is where this teacher is, but with folks like that championing the cause for our wonderful exceptional students, I can leave in peace. 

And now, on to another exciting journey!
 

12 comments:

  1. This was a really nice piece, Brenda. And I love your letter, your passion, your enthusiasm and most significantly, your commitment to inclusion. Best, Lisa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i look forward to being able to spread this message to many schools. Thanks for your kind words, Lisa.
      brenda

      Delete
  2. Congratulations on your new assignment Brenda. It has been inspiring for me to read the inclusion journey that your school has taken and I will admit to tears when I read the statement about the teacher now believing in inclusion as "the only way to do things". It is a long, slow paradigm shift but there are little glimmers of hope everywhere.

    I say this as a parent of a child with complex needs: What you have given to the students with disabilities and their families by ensuring they are included in the school is something that will last well beyond the years you were at the school. It is empowering for both children and parents when others work to do what is right even if it is sometimes harder. It equates to parents being able to dream different dreams for their children.

    And that doesn't touch on what the other children gain from it or the fact that all of the children will be better off as adults for having been educated in a way where adults did not create dividing lines. Only when we authentically teach our students to celebrate diversity through our model will we be able to begin to imagine a world of acceptance and understanding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Monica,
      I could only accept this assignment if I knew my school was at the point of sustainability. That was so important to me. I know the people left behind will carry on the shift to full inclusion for all. And I will be able to share this message with folks in many other schools.

      More on the journey to come.
      brenda

      Delete
  3. Congratulations on your new position! What a wonderful opportunity to continue to create inclusive environments in the school system. They are lucky to have you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I am lucky to be included in such a mission. Thanks Nicole.

      More to come I am sure. . .

      Delete
  4. Brenda,
    Congratulations! I think you will be awesome in that role. I am so impressed with the innovative thinking and support role creation that takes place in Canada. We here in the US have much to learn from your northern folk. Your letter to the parents was incredible. Very well said and I have many questions to ask you about your use of the Leader in Me program. So glad we connected on Twitter and that I have had the chance to learn from you.

    Sincerely,
    Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so excited that my new position starts next week. You are right, our district is very innovative. I am fortunate to be taking part in an initiative that will further the inclusion of all students toward an equitable education. Thanks for your wishes and I would be glad to talk anytime. Good luck in your job search!

      Delete
  5. Brenda,
    Fantastic post! I especially enjoyed your letter to the parents of your school. Your passion and dedication to your staff, students and families came through loud and clear! Congratulations on your new position in the district! I have no doubt that you will continue to lead your community forward to even greater things! I look forward to reading more about your adventures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Leah. I am excited and a bit nervous about my new position and I can't believe it starts in a week!! I look forward to sharing my new journey and I am committing to weekly blog posts. There, it is in print so now I better do it!

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful post! Congratulations, Brenda!
    Leah Kelley

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Leah. It was hard to leave but I know I can continue in this quest for inclusion for all students. I will miss my little people but will have time to check in on them I hope.

      Delete