I seem to be catching up on the travelling I was not able to do these last two years. While it has kept me busy and in motion, it has also provided me with so many wonderful opportunities to connect with our members throughout BC, with the bonus of visiting their schools and communities. The novelty of meeting together without a screen’s edge framing everyone’s face will last for some time. In my travels, the conversations have underscored for me that the strength of our Association is in the strength of our members. The journey has also underscored other things.
I have spent much time thinking, writing, and talking about the ‘pivots’ we had to make in BC’s education sector to keep schools open and operational. It is a remarkable feat, and the Principals and Vice-Principals of this province deserve much credit for its success. In my travels, I have engaged our members in conversations of the before, during, and after, gathering their insights and their experiences from our two years with COVID-19. One of these conversations soundly reminded me that for some of our members – many of our members! – there is no before the pandemic. I found myself tripping over what I had taken for granted.
In the weeks immediately following spring break, schools began to think about and prepare for live assemblies once more. It was during a discussion of this typical and common school activity – at least typical and common for one as advanced in years as I am – when a spotlight illuminated for me the Pandemic Principal. Our member shared that she has virtual assemblies dialed, every detail and potential wrinkle considered. But this gathering in person was a new creature, one for which she had no experience in planning. And nor had nearly a third of her students, and a fair number of her staff! True to form as a school leader in BC, our member was stepping up, reaching out for advice from colleagues, and leading the way, breaking new ground.
The metaphor is incongruous to me, for in-person assemblies are a well-trodden path we can return to comfortably. Here is where I stumbled. The Pandemic Principal has a different frame of reference than most Principals, making old things new again. Reflecting on a comment I have heard frequently from members helps me reconcile this discord: “It must be very different to be president during a pandemic.” Well, I wouldn’t know. Like the newest of our Principals and Vice-Principals, I have only this frame, no before pandemic experience to reference. Everything is relative, and every voice unique.
And the voices from the field have shared so much with me: their victories, their fears and challenges, their hurt, and their wisdom. As with Principals and presidents, there are other leaders with no reference point from before; they, too, are of the pandemic. Among these voices are those of current BCPVPA Directors, and those seeking to be Directors. And they speak from many points in BC. They speak from Richmond and Kamloops, Burns Lake and Sooke. From Surrey and Prince George, as well as West Vancouver, Christina Lake, and Victoria.
They each have something to share with us all.
So, this week, I end here and leave space for the voices of your candidates. Besides, I have to pack, for the field is calling again! And I could not be more grateful.