I enjoy listening to podcasts and while listening to one that I follow regularly, I came across this quote by Tony Robbins “Trade your expectation for appreciation and see your entire world change.” I committed the quote to memory and as best as any human could during a global pandemic, I put it to use whenever something came up this year that forced us to pivot and once again change our expectations. It made situations easier and shifted my perspective, almost always, to one of gratitude. As Mrs. Challinor, retiring K teacher, would say, this quote and way of thinking is a COVID keeper! In fact, Cordova Bay elementary has many COVID keepers that I would like to share with you, as I look back on a year that is truly one for the books!
Cordova Bay COVID Keepers:
1. Students – It goes without saying, but let me tell you that to teach students in the school has always just been, well, expected! Remote learning was very, very hard, and we simply LOVE having your kiddos with us each and every day. Best part of the job is the face-to-face human connections. I appreciated the smiles, the laughs and sharing in your child’s learning journey this year. So fortunate to have had this privilege when many classrooms around the world remained empty.
2. Parent Trust - As a school leader we expect that we must work hard to gain and maintain parent trust in the work we and our staff do. As I entered my third year at Cordova Bay, I felt your trust, but please know that more than ever, this year I deeply appreciated it! Your words and actions conveyed full trust in my staff and in me and for that I am grateful. I will continue to work hard to keep it.
3. Rigorous Hand and Cough Hygiene - I have been in public education since 1995 and I have yet to see a cold and flu season that did not cause high absenteeism in schools. This year’s season simply seemed to slip by with little to no impact. I appreciate good health and we look forward to keeping up this health and safety piece moving forward.
4. Daytime Custodians – WE LOVE OUR DAYTIME CUSTODIANS!!!!! I so appreciate not having to change paper towel and toilet paper dispensers throughout the day, clean up bathroom messes, deal with minor maintenance issues, etc. I am very thankful for this support and would like to thank our Board of Trustees for ensuring that daytime custodial time continues at elementary. Immense gratitude to Head Custodian Mr. Doug Elinsky and his team of daytime custodians (Mr. Clint Kennedy and Mr. Aaron Kedves) for the ongoing high contact surface cleaning to keep us all safe.
5. Parent Advisory Council and PAC volunteers – PAC President Michelle Joergensen and the other members of this year’s executive, Stacey Bendall, Heidi Low, Pia Dhariwal and Andrew Pape-Salmon, supported our school with everything from special individualized bins for COVID safe school supplies, gentle hand soap for tender skin, a sound system and play equipment for gym and outside play times, opportunities for parent learning sessions, author visit Robert “Lucky” Budd and so much more. A lot was expected this year to meet health and safety needs and our school PAC was right there with us every step of the way – generous, thoughtful and caring – a true reflection of our entire parent group!
Gr 5 Farewell Parents also deserve a HUGE round of applause for their efforts in making our Grade 5 students feel extra special, despite the restrictions on end of year events. Thank you goes out to parent volunteer CJ Ritchie and yearbook volunteers Kim Spryzak, Kirsten Denham and Ashley Jones. The students absolutely loved the yearbooks and had a blast signing and sharing the highlights and photos with their peers. A treasure to look back on this truly historic year. The Gr 5 video, also a fabulous memento, was created by Dianne Dal’acqua who invested countless hours into creating it for our Grade 5 students. And don’t forget the cool hoodies and the parents who graciously offered their time to organize them - thank you Robyn DoSouto and Vashti McMurray.
And a round of applause to all Class Reps and parent volunteers at Cordova Bay. You are all true keepers!
6. Zoom, Teams and all platforms that kept us connected – I appreciate how our community embraced meeting online so that we could continue to share our understanding about students and their social-emotional and academic journeys. For some parents, online was a convenient option and wherever possible, we wish to keep it. Thank you for staying connected with us.
7. Staff – Although we wish we could keep them with us forever, we will be saying goodbye to some of our cherished staff. We appreciate all that they have given to students over their many years of service:
· Ms. Susan Holmes (Grade 4/5), consummate professional and lover of all things aesthetically beautiful – like our courtyard garden. We will miss you, our hummingbird whisperer, after 44 amazing years of teaching excellence!!!
· Ms. Cathy Challinor (Kindergarten). It is hard to say goodbye to our resident learning garden guru and nature lover after 18 years of teaching. We will miss your laugh, your love and your calm presence.
· Mrs. Donna Cochrane (Education Assistant). Seventeen years of brightness and dedication to student learning. Your smile, sense of humour and infectious laugh will be greatly missed!
These ladies are part of a talented and unique team of teachers and support staff. I would so love to keep them all!
Sadly, we will also be saying goodbye to the following staff:
· Mr. Chris Swift-Fry (Gr 3) who heads to Kelset Elementary to share his enthusiasm and love of super fun games like Quidditch,
· Ms. Lindsay Rochon (Gr 1) who patiently awaits an assignment at one of our lucky schools (thank you for being our SOGI rep and fingers crossed Ms. Rochon that you’re back with us,
· Ms. Jana Anderson (Education Assistant) who just jumped right in partway through the year and it seems like she has always been with us,
· Ms. Myah Rach-Sharpe (Education Assistant) who is truly our K whisperer. Thank you Miss Myah for your incredible support with our K classes. You are a gem and we feel very fortunate to have had your support.
· Ms. Ally Bjelis (Education Assistant) who connects so well with our students and has been keen to share her growing baby bump with our interested students! Congrats Ally and best wishes with baby Summer.
Our entire staff are COVID Keepers and we just simply could not have made it through this year without their generous support, kindness and commitment to students. Cordova Bay staff are simply the best!
And last but not least….
8. Freezie Fridays – A fundraiser to keep, for sure. WOW! Another amazing day last Friday - we raised $391.00 for a GRAND TOTAL OF $1643.20! Thank you everyone for supporting the Dirty Wall Project charity. A letter and photos from Cindy Ryan, Dirty Wall coordinator, will be sent in a separate post celebrating the success of this fundraiser.
A true COVID keeper is the deeply felt sense of community here at Cordova Bay Elementary. Thank you everyone for your support, care and understanding during this extraordinary year on our planet.
Mrs. Mary Lynn Heron