There really should be more than one weekend per year dedicated to gratitude; however, Canadian Thanksgiving is still a time for us to actively count our blessings. A quick glance around the world should be evidence enough of all that we have to be thankful for. Still, it’s important to set aside the time to do so. As experts tell us, people who practice gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness are healthier, happier, and more purpose-filled than those plagued by cynicism, criticism, and narcissism.
This year – as we prepare for the next important phase of our campus renewal – I am especially thankful for the value of our independence. While all schools and sectors of society have been weighed down by pandemic restrictions, Matthews Hall has continued to look forward, outward, and upward, keeping its eye on the horizon of childhood, as we work diligently to ensure our students have the best possible experience in as normal an environment as possible. The upcoming transformation and creation of our Early Primary Learning Centre is a necessary, achievable, and bold step along our path of continual school improvement.
One thing I have learned in life is that the “practice of gratitude” is especially valuable during times of inconvenience when patience and flexibility are tested. Anyone who has renovated a home while living in it will know exactly what I mean! The challenge is always about keeping our eye on the prize while adapting to the important phases of demolition and construction. Speaking as your Head of School, I began this process early by emptying and relocating my office to a temporary location at the other end of the school this week (…thanks for your help, Mr. Nash!). It was mildly inconvenient, but I know the improvement of learning space for our youngest students will be the reward.
Over the next few weeks, we will continue to set the stage for the safe, efficient, and organized renovation of the east and north sides of the original building. Our beautiful library space will be transformed into a warm and welcoming home for kindergarten, our extended day program will be relocated to the bright new south atrium, and our main office reception will take over an area in the atrium outside the school store. It will seem a little different at first, but we will quickly adapt and return to new and improved spaces in a few short months.
So, as we depart for Thanksgiving weekend, I remain hope-filled and grateful for the patient, creative, and caring ways that our staff and parents continue to embrace school as a “living organism” – one that grows, flexes, and adjusts while keeping the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s students in focus.
And, not to worry. All parents whose daily routines will be directly affected by the upcoming renovations will be updated in advance as the project begins.
In the meantime, we can practice gratitude this weekend by being thankful for health, family, peace, and prosperity. And for a school with teachers who appreciate children as individuals and work hard to do their very best for each of them – during a pandemic, no less!
Ric Anderson, Head of School