A first

Today is a big day for CAIS.

At this moment, there are 23 people, from six provinces, in three schools in three different provinces, participating on accreditation reviews.  Think about that for a moment.

I’ve been working at the national level for eight years, and it excites me to know that this has never been done before.  In fact, we are going to set a second record this year, by completing 18 reviews in one year!  (Just by way of context, the most we have done in the past is 11).

But it gets better.  As these visits are happening, I am sitting at my desk in St Catharines.  I will go home to my kids tonight and might even cook dinner (yes Kevin, you read that correctly….but I said ‘might’).   Call me selfish, but this is a really big deal for someone who is away more than home during this busy season.

If that is not exciting enough, it gets even better.  One of our strategic priorities is that our organizational model is to be “financially responsible, nimble and adaptive to an ever-changing world.”  We want our organizational model to be efficient while ensuring that our “leadership is strong.”

Today, we have three Accreditation Coordinators – Elaine Danson, David Hadden, and Guy McLean – leading the three reviews in Winnipeg, Belleville and Halifax.  This strategic use of retired Heads in this kind of leadership role is incredibly powerful.  The schools will no doubt benefit from this additional expertise.  The three of them are no strangers to CAIS; they probably have – combined – about 100 years in CAIS schools.  (I said combined.)  How is that for a statistic?!!

Makes me feel really proud of our national organization. I might even make a celebratory dinner tonight and say a little toast….

Be a good parent

When I taught English and my students struggled with a topic, I would advise them to write about something that’s on their mind….something they care about. I have had one of the most powerful experiences of my life and have thought of nothing else since.

On Friday my grandfather was rushed to hospital and by evening, I joined my aunts, uncle, and cousins, as well as my brother and my Dad around his bedside for the Sacrament of the Sick. The priest commented on the number of family members and the fact that we knew the right responses to the prayers. I wondered how many people are as fortunate?  My Pa is 95.5 – he had nine kids, 12 grandkids, and 6 great-grandkids – so we all knew he had lived a great and long life.

As my brother and I said our goodbyes, he offered us advice.  Of all the things he could have said at that point in the hospital, he said this:  Be a good parent.

It was tough to understand him but that message was clear.

Now before I continue, I should add that when Kevin and I brought our kids to say their good-byes the next morning, he was sitting up in bed and greeted us with a twinkle in his eye.  He looked at Kathleen’s track pants and asked what “Aeropostal” meant.

His words have had impact and have me thinking.  What does it mean to be a good parent?

There’s no shortage of advice out there.  Right now three books come to mind:

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.

Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine.

Mindset by Carol Dweck.

I’m especially struck by Dweck’s good advice – to praise process not outcome.

To my knowledge, my grandfather didn’t read many parenting books.  But he drew on a deep well of wisdom and faith – and with nine kids in his small World War II bungalow, he got a lot of practice.  Thankfully, he has bounced back.  We’re enjoying the bonus time we have left together, and more opportunities to enjoy his company and reflect on that which is most important.