I am blessed with being married to an exceptional woman. Not only does she put up with my eccentricities in the normal ebb and flow realities of Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus, she also happens to be a really fine Principal running a wonderful public elementary school. I have very high standards of excellence in education and I can tell you quite honestly that I would be honoured to work for this particular Principal 24/7. Not only is she the epitome of a lifelong learner, a consummate professional, and a mindful arbitrator, she has a sense of humour.
Here is a classic example. As she was getting ready to leave for work at 6:30 am, she asked, “Can I borrow your Dad’s old coat?” She knew this coat was special – my Dad had left it to me to use in my outdoor education storytelling. It was a knee length deep brown Orlon fake-fur jacket that looked just like sheared beaver. When I wore it, I felt like a 17th century coureur de bois. “Sure,” I said, “Special dress-up day?”
“I have to be a bear,” she replied as she kissed me goodbye. “Oh,” I said to the closing door. I got the full story that evening.
It turns out that one of the kindergarten classes doing an Inquiry Learning Project on habitats had built a cave in their classroom. Not only a cave, but a pond complete with frogs and fish, and Canada geese flying in a ecosystem that only primary imaginations could create. The children had just gone out for recess. My wife, the Principal, put on my Dad’s coat, tiptoed into the classroom, and curled up in the cave.
The children came back from recess. It took a few minutes, but finally one of the children whispered, “There’s something sleeping in our cave!” They gathered around. One of the braver children gingerly poked the sleeping creature. “I think it’s a bear.” The bear got another poke. This time the bear stirred and growled a little. “Maybe it’s hungry. Give it a fish!” So one of the fish from the pond was placed in the cave with the bear. The bear must have smelled the fish because it rolled over and opened its eyes.
“Principal!,” the children yelled, “We thought you were a bear!”
“Oh my, no,” said the Principal, “it was cold out on yard duty and and your cave is so nice and warm that I came inside and I suppose I fell asleep.” The Principal bear stretched and yawned and lumbered back to her office. The children put the fish back in the pond … you just never know when another hungry bear might show up
Now keep in mind that in previous incarnations this particular Principal has been a Doctor, a WWF Champion, and a Pirate to mention only a few. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a child in a school where imagination and inquiry learning are nurtured and your administrator can not only run the ship, she can inspire the crew and the passengers to love the journey.
As soon as she told me that story tonight, I had to come and write it down to share with you. The world is full of so much bad news right now that this story made me reflect on all the good. Thank you Principal Bear.
Yes there are people out there who threaten the sanity of our social fabric; but there are far more great people out there working their hearts out for the children and the adults in our communities. So, why do I love my wife? Because she is a constant reminder of all that is good and intelligent and caring in this world.
Skid Crease, Caledon
*stock image from media.gettyimages