For the last few months, I have had the great fortune to be a part of a collaborative committee to plan Balwin School’s Intercultural Understanding Conference (IUC) that took place on March 21. The event was a celebration of the cultural diversity represented at the school, and in this community.
First things first, I have to give a huge shout out to Ann Mah, Vice-Principal at Balwin, and all of the school’s amazing staff. The work that you do every day and your commitment to the education and well-being of your students is inspiring.
Almost immediately when I walk through the doors of a school, I am reminiscent of days long past, and I do mean looong past. So arriving at committee meetings to be met by Ms. Mah with an ice-cream sandwich or a Healthy Choice yogurt bar was a highlight, a momentary transport back to Grade 3 when my math test came back with a sticker. How great was that? The best!
Sitting on a committee of educators, I was so proud to hear all of the amazing investments that are being made into the lives of children in this community every day.
At Balwin, in addition to the curriculum, community partners deliver programs that contribute to the mental and emotional development of the students - Bully Busters, YOUCAN Edmonton, Partners for Kids and the Transitions Centre, to name a few. The school works with these partners, to ensure that each and every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Children are being taught, and shown by example, to be courteous to one another, to not bully but be tolerant, to listen before speaking, to be kind and to share, to celebrate being different. Most importantly, to be proud of who they are.
As I stood against Balwin’s gymnasium wall with the other adults for the IUC opening ceremonies, I found myself challenged to be a little more like the kids in front of me. Seated on the floor, with one hand in the air to signal the speaker that they were ready to listen, I watched hundreds of students quiet. So I followed their lead. I raised my hand and forced myself to disengage in the conversation I was having.
And I started to wonder. At what age do we decide we have outgrown the rules, to give the same courtesy that we expect from others? To believe that what we have to say is more important than someone else?
A conscious decision or not, I was a role model to every one of those kids, and the adults standing next to me. I am an adult. I want to act like it.
I want to live the lessons that I believe in teaching to children. I want to smile at a stranger just because it’s the kind thing to do. I want to listen for what I can learn rather than impress with my knowledge to teach, to contribute to the goal of the team and have fun doing it. I want to be tolerant and communicate compromise to achieve what is best for all us. I want to be the kind of adult we are raising our children to be.
I am just one voice. What do you think? Can the lessons we teach children subsist in an adult world? Imagine the kind of place it would be.