In Recognition of Our Ubuntu

June 30, 2022

This time last year, I posted a blog expressing my profound gratitude to all our staff for getting us through what was a tremendously demanding year. As I look back on this past school year, I continue to be truly grateful for how we have managed an even more challenging year than we anticipated.

Last June - and for much of the prior school year - we had to adhere to strict health and safety protocols for graduation ceremonies, staff meetings, year-end celebrations, professional development, and in-class learning. And despite our optimism, this past fall required us to dig deeper into our physical and emotional reserves to navigate new and updated health and safety measures as we opened our doors for full-time in-person learning. This stress was compounded by the destructive flooding that deeply impacted our community in November. Nonetheless, we continued to adapt and take required precautions and remained committed to providing the much-needed learning opportunities for our students.

We ran into another series of challenges as the Omicron wave ripped through our community. Nothing was more difficult than dealing with staff shortages, so Spring Break was a welcomed repose. As spring progressed, the feelings of cautious optimism re-emerged throughout our schools and district sites. Restrictions and mandates were slowly lifted, and we saw a return to normal activities and gatherings that we had genuinely missed over the prior two years. Of note, our 2022 graduates have been able to have in-person commencement ceremonies with their friends and family in attendance. Our schools have held fantastic theatre productions, sports events, retirement celebrationsmusic concerts, and so much more! We have held in-person staff meetings and have been able to connect with colleagues face-to-face instead of on a screen. As tired as we all were, we welcomed the opportunity to connect and give students access to long-awaited learning opportunities.

A few months ago, a colleague explained the meaning of the South African Zulu word “ubuntu” to me. It was described as a broad term referring to the universal bonds of our common humanity. Ubuntu is centred on mutuality and simultaneously embodies the values of respect, dignity, kindness, community, fairness, compassion, joy, and love.  One common paraphrase of the notion of ubuntu is “I am because we are.” What a fabulous and endearing concept!

I am incredibly proud of and thankful for our teachers, administrators, support staff and district office staff to our families through these past two years.  While the pandemic struggles intensified over the last two years, and we are all exhausted from the effort, the more critical values of our joint commitment to children have been unwavering. We all played different roles to uplift our students in our care through our most trying times. Our ubuntu has helped get through these last two years, and for that I am forever humbled and grateful.