We all know that relationships matter. We may even talk regularly about the benefits of these strong connections between educators, parents, and students. But sometimes it’s really seeing the value of these strong relationships that make us realize just how important they are!
Yesterday was the last day for one member of our school’s Kindergarten team. Starting today, Janet is taking on the new-to-her position of a Reading Specialist in our Board. This is my second year of working beside Janet. I knew of her, and then had the pleasure of meeting her, a few years before I started teaching Kindergarten at Rousseau School. I was involved in the N.T.I.P. Program for our Board, and was mentoring an educator that wanted to see a Kindergarten classroom in action. Many colleagues recommended that we go and see Janet’s room, and so we did. I wasn’t disappointed! There were many things that stuck out for me on that visit, but one thing that I remember even years later, are all of the things that Janet did to connect with kids. From her gentle tone to sitting down and creating with a group of students, Janet was always about the kids first. She still is! There is not one child in the school that has not been impacted by Mrs. Raymond! In fact, I don’t think that there’s one educator that hasn’t either.
This point was highlighted for me yesterday. When Paula and I told the class that it was “Mrs. Raymond’s last day,” children were inspired to create things for her all day long. They made her cards, pictures, and notes of love and encouragement. These children are not in her class. Some of them just met Janet for the first time in September, and largely only see her during our outdoor learning time in the morning. But she’s made a difference for them! It was incredible to see how many kids gave Janet some of their very best work yesterday because they wanted her to know how much they cared. Even though Paula and I were already thinking about giving her our pink painting piece as a goodbye present (as she shared with us that it really was her favourite piece of artwork), it was the children that suggested giving her a painting. They wanted her to remember us with something special. Many children at this age are very me-focused, and this is true of numerous students in our class. This is developmentally appropriate, and we know this. But thanks to all that Janet has done for us, and for the school, even these me-focused kids made yesterday about her.
So thank you, Mrs. Raymond, for reminding us about the importance of putting kids first. Thanks for always being there with a hug, a kind word, and some encouragement. You’ve made an impact on thousands of students, parents, and educators, including every single one of us in ELP 1. What’s a little something that we could all learn from Janet? I’m very sad to see you go, but I’m thrilled that I got the opportunity to work with and learn from you. You’re going to continue to make a difference for kids and adults everywhere, and I wish you nothing but the best on your first day as a Reading Specialist!