Learning From A Leader

Goodbye Mr. Carey!

Goodbye Mr. Carey!

During Monday’s assembly, my students found out that our amazing vice principal, Gord Carey, is leaving for another school. Minutes later, we were standing up to leave, and Gord passed us in line. One of my students turned to him and with huge tears in his eyes said, “Why do you have to leave us?” At that moment, I could feel the lump in my own throat. What made me have to choke back my own sobs even more was when Gord went up, let this child give him a hug, and calling him by name, reassured him that everything was going to be okay. Why did Gord’s words and actions have such an emotional impact on me? Because this student of mine is one of over 500 students in the school. He doesn’t visit the office. Gord just sees him on his walk throughs and when outside on the playground. But he knows him. He knows his name, and for the few times he sees him, he makes him feel special. 

I’ve only had the pleasure of working with Gord for a year, but during this time he’s taught me many things. My biggest take away from him though is people matter most. I know this makes sense, but it’s his words and actions that really drive this point home. 

  • After a very emotional staff goodbye this morning, Gord came around to classrooms. Why? “Because Aviva, I’m afraid that I might not be able to see everyone at the end of the day, and I want to spend my time seeing and saying goodbye to as many staff and students as I can.” That’s exactly what he did! He talked to kids. He received hugs, high fives, and lovely words of encouragement. He showed the value in connecting with people.
  • Gord’s one of the busiest people that I know, but when it comes to talking about kids or solving problems, he’s always there. He always listens. He always helps. I don’t know where he finds the time, but he does. Last year, the staff at my old school used to laugh at me for my late night email replies to them; well, I’m proud to say that Gord has me beat. Even on the weekend, on a holiday, or on a week night, he’ll write you back … and that says something to me!
  • He takes the time to laugh … like really laugh with you! It’s the kind of laugh that makes your stomach ache and your eyes water. I think that laughter connects people. It shows people that you care enough about them to take the time to connect with them on a personal as well as a professional level. Gord does that!
  • He always puts kids first! Here’s a little secret about Gord (that I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing with everyone): he hates worms. We had a vermicomposter, and I’ll remember the first time that he came in on a Wiggly Wednesday and a child ran up to him holding a worm. The look on his face was priceless! From then on, Gord would always squirm when he knew that the worms were out. That was until the day that I mentioned I was going to be away on a Wiggly Wednesday. I had a supply teacher coming in on this day, and she’d never been in my class before, nor had I ever been away on this kind of special day. Gord’s comment to me was, “Okay Aviva. I’ll make sure that I go up and see everyone … even with the worms!” I love his dedication to students: worms or no worms. 🙂
  • Gord notices things, and connects over the details. This morning, as we were having our before school Staff Celebration, Gord saw me and said, “I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve seen you. I’ve missed my daily dose of Aviva.” 🙂 This week has been full of field trips, special days, and moving classrooms, and I haven’t gotten down to the office or the staffroom as much as usual. Not only did he notice this, but he showed me that he cares. That matters!

I’ve worked with, and continue to work with, many wonderful administrators. I’ve learned something from all of them. I’ve only been at Dr. Davey for a year, but I’m so glad that I got a chance to work with Gord as part of this first year experience. Today, I watched staff members, students, and parents say goodbye to an incredible vice principal. I saw the looks. I saw the tears. I saw, and heard, the love. As I said to a colleague tonight, I strongly believe in the fact that change is good. It’s never easy, but it’s valuable. I watched the start of this change today, and I know that Gord will be remembered so fondly at Dr. Davey because he took the time to care and connect: he took the time for people! His departure made me wonder, how would you want to be remembered? How do you think you might be remembered? How can we all learn a little something from Mr. Carey?


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