Dec 4, 2020 Message to Members

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month

I would hear these words on the first morning of each month, delivered in concert with a mild pinch and an affectionate punch from my wife. Up until I met her, I’d never heard this phrase before. Given she hails from Newfoundland, I’ve chalked it up to a ‘Maritime thing’. In any event, for the last twenty-five years, the first day of each month has started this way for me.  

 My wife and I are apart for the time being: I’m in Vancouver while she has remained home, working in a school. So, when the first day of the final month of 2020 arrived this week, she was not there to signify it for me. That isn’t to say December didn’t start with significance: as it unfolded, the day proved to be remarkable. 

 On this first day of December, it was said to be ‘Giving Tuesday’, a day of generosity to follow the indulgent consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I have not read any statistics, but I do marvel at our capacity for generosity in these times.  On this first day of December, we remembered the courage of Rosa Parks, who suffered threat and persecution in the pursuit of justice sixty-five years ago. And as December began, we were reminded by current events and lesson plans that we still have much work ahead to heed the Calls to Action. 

On this first day of December, some parents participated in a demonstration to bring attention to their concerns for school safety. As the month began, both Facebook and the BC Centre for Disease Control shared information with the public, leaving families to choose their trusted source. 

On this first day of December, a great number of aspiring teachers are uncertain of their new year. For reasons we can understand, practical placements in BC schools are challenging. At a time when our system needs new teachers to fill vacancies, the preparation of the next generation is uncertain.  

On this first day of December, my green stickies numbered 385, which is the same number of messages I’ve sent to school Principals, who are providing leadership through notice of a potential exposure. On this day – for the first time – it was my message that broke this news of an exposure to a Principal. 

And in my family, on this first day of December, we turned on the lights. 

We are a family that doesn’t unbox Christmas until school is out. Other than the advent calendar, no bells, bows, boughs, or ribbons deck our halls until well into December. Some years, we haven’t rolled out the season until December 22nd. 

I mentioned that my wife is not with me in Vancouver, yet I do have a roommate: my eldest daughter. Everywhere in our neighbourhood, the glow of Christmas lights has filled the night for weeks, prompting her to remark that “Either we’re a weird family that waits too long, or everyone around us started early.” Although we may be a strange family, I believe her analysis is astute. And so on this first day of December, we added to the glow. 

This holiday season, people need the light – and what it signifies for them – a little sooner than usual. Throughout the autumn, March felt long ago and December seemed distant. Now here it is, with all it signifies. And not a moment too soon.  


The BC Principals' & Vice-Principals' Association is a voluntary professional association representing school leaders employed as Principals and Vice-Principals in BC's public education system. We provide our members with the professional services and supports they need to provide exemplary leadership in public education.

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