I want to start by saying how amazing my school is.
I know that everyone says that, but it’s really true for mine. From the moment you walk in our front doors, you are greeted by and treated to the most welcoming, warm and inclusive environment. The strong leadership, exceptional staff, amazing students and supportive parents, all make it a place I am so happy to call home.
In the fall, Aurora was presented with an opportunity to apply for OPHEA’s Healthy School Certification process. We jumped at the chance. Once we found out that our school was selected to be part of this new pilot program through Ever Active Schools, our momentum started, and we never slowed down. We viewed this certification as an opportunity to continue and improve Aurora’s focus on health and wellness within our school.
The Certification process supported our school in building our capacity to address priority health topics using the Comprehensive School Health Framework, and taking a 6-step community development process which had our team assess our school community, identify our health priorities, develop an action plan, implement, track, monitor and celebrate.
Every one of our monthly meetings began with a 2 minute greet and catch up. From there, the next 28 minutes were dedicated to working our way through the current Step, asking questions, discussing and delegating tasks. At the end of each meeting, responsibilities were reviewed and the next meeting date was set.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our lives got turned upside down.
Classrooms were packed up, schools were scrubbed, and we all headed home to begin a new virtual teaching experience. We were all so busy trying to create a new normal, that almost all (thank you Jessica) of our team totally forgot about our monthly scheduled meeting. It was quickly rescheduled for the next day, and of course, online.
As I waited for the rest of my team to join our Google Meet, I had one single moment of worry: what if there’s just too much on our plates right now? What if we don’t have the time, or the energy to finish what we started? What happens if it just can’t get it done? That worry completely disintegrated when I saw the looks on my teammates’ faces. They came into that meeting with enthusiasm, focus and hope.
You see, from the beginning, this group was all in. We took the certification process as an opportunity to make ourselves, and our school, better. We knew that we were already doing amazing things, but every single one of us wanted to do more. This pandemic may have tripped us up for a moment, but if anything, it strengthened our resolve to showcase, and celebrate our Aurora Elementary community.
This feels even more important now than ever before.
As the past few weeks have brought so much change, one thing has remained the same: the importance of communication. Our in-person meetings became Google Meets. Casual conversation tidbits in the hallway became daily, and sometimes late night/early morning emails filled with additional thoughts and tasks to complete.
I am so thankful for the unique and individual strengths of each of my teammates. One brings steady and contemplative leadership. One brings enthusiasm and a passion for data. One brings an unbending focus for the mental health of children. One brings a quiet support and eagerness for improvement. Another brings a fierce knowledge of policy and is the biggest cheerleader a team could ask for.
When you have a group of people that are that committed and passionate, there is just no stopping them. We are a group of supporters. We listen to each other, respect each other and are always focused on our shared end goal. We utilize every single second of each 30 minute meeting, but make sure to keep humour at the forefront. Given that we are now working and teaching from home, we are unable to complete everything as we planned it, however, we have been able to report on what has been implemented, and plan for when school reopens.
As individuals, we are driven and hardworking, but as a team, we are unstoppable. I could not ask for a better group of people to complete this certification, and navigate this unsettled time, with.
We are so much more than a Healthy Schools Committee. We are a family.
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