Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Who Are the People in Your Neighbourhood?

Who are your school community heroes? Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Those of you who grew up in the 70s might be familiar with the Sesame Street classic, "Who are the People in Your Neighbourhood?" In addition to a nostalgic stroll down memory lane, it's an important reminder of the number of people who contribute to the well being and success of a community. In a school community, many of these people quietly and efficiently go about their jobs, with little recognition of the integral role they play. But in order to support the often complex needs of our students, to learn their stories, we need to solicit input from all members of our community. We need get to know the "people in our neighbourhood", and ensure that their voices are heard and valued.

Just a few of the many heroes that help to support student success. 
I was recently privileged to speak to an amazing group of educators in Prince George, BC. Through some incredibly open and honest conversations, we were able to identify numerous individuals who contribute on a daily basis to the social, emotional and academic success of our students. But even more important than the compiled "list", was the amount of warmth and appreciation that was being expressed as educators shared story after story of the impact that these individuals had on the lives of their students. I couldn't help but wonder how often those sentiments were expressed to those individual in person... How often do we say "thank you" to the heroes in our school communities?

Simply put, supporting student success is a team sport. We can't do alone, nor should we. I challenge you to take a look around you tomorrow as you walk through the parking lot and halls of your school. Who are the people in your neighbourhood, your school heroes who contribute to the success and well being of your students, and staff? And when was the last time that you said thank you for the important role that they play?


  1. This is actually a tough question. As a teacher, I work in an organization that requires a multitude of roles in order to function, and the system keeps functioning (at some level) even when those roles are not being fulfilled. Classes can survive without their teachers for a while (at least until another is found), likewise a school can function without a principal and a district without a superintendent. I'm sure we could even carry on for some time without an Education Minister... how long would it take to notice one was gone? How long could we go without custodians, secretaries, support workers, maintenance staff, counsellors, and so on? Everyone plays a part -- some do it well and some do not, but almost all of them are necessary at some level. I must admit I’ve spent many of my years as a teacher shielding myself, my classroom, and my students from the parts of the system that are dysfunctional, unfair, or chaotic. For me anyways, this was a necessary step in order to figure out what a safe and engaging place of learning should look like, should be like, and I’m quite certain I’m still figuring that out. So, the heroes for me are the ones that make the school and my practice more functional, fair, and calm. Colleagues, mentors, school advocates, sometimes parents and often students. Is it necessary to name names? I appreciate fellow Social Studies teaches in my personal learning network -- the Pacific Slope Consortium (Rob, Ian, JP, and many others) -- for indulging the curricular experiments and providing a context for collaborative practice. I appreciate colleagues at my school that have had the long term “health and wholth” of the students at heart like John Vogt (retired teacher), Joe Pereira (DP Todd), and Sandra Jandric (DP Todd). I appreciate mentors that worked alongside me, challenged me, and provided much-needed counterpoints such as Norm Booth (retired teacher CHSS). I appreciate tireless advocates for public education that helped create positive classroom, school, and district conditions such as Mike Duffey (retired teacher CHSS), Matt Pearce (recently deceased teacher CHSS), many colleagues from the PGDTA and BCTF, and my own partner Kate Cooke who served as a local school trustee for three years and fought for progressive changes, some of which succeeded and some of which bore fruit only after she was done. I appreciate my father Walt and all the other teachers in the family over multiple generations for ennobling the profession and leading by example. I appreciate the students who have shared their inquiry with me and their classes over the years -- the process and product of their efforts at storytelling are the clearest forms of motivation I have as a teacher.

    1. Hi Glen,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. I have always viewed schools (and school districts) as microcosms of our larger society, with numerous, complex symbiotic relationships that need to function efficiently and effectively for the well-being of the community as a whole. No small task! If parts of that complex system aren't "functioning", the ripple effect can be pretty significant.

      And I do appreciate you "naming names"- amidst the craziness of our days, I find it's not often that we get the time to reflect, and show gratitude, towards those individuals who have impacted our careers, and by extension, our lives. You seem to have a wealth of those people in your life. Pretty amazing. :)