My eldest is in grade 12 this year and we’ve been talking a lot about “what next”. When I was in grade 12, my dad gave me some well-meaning but poor advice. At the time, I really enjoyed languages and thought I would like doing something in that field at university. My dad, who speaks three languages, told me not to pursue that as “there was no money in languages in Canada”. He (as an immigrant to this country) said to me that “everyone in Canada is bilingual anyway”. I would later find this statement to be inaccurate, especially on the West Coast. Fast forward some 30 years later and, after a few odd turns of fate, here I am working as an elementary school Vice Principal in a French immersion school!
We talk a lot in education about passion-based learning for our students but I think the same should said for the educators in the system and how we feel about our work. For me, as a teacher and now an administrator, my job has never been about the holidays nor the money. Of course, it’s been great to have spent so much time with my kids during the summer and Christmas vacations; as well, it’s true that I’m making more money now as a VP. However, the point for me is that I’ve always cared about the work itself and not the things surrounding it. I really enjoy what I’m doing and am driven to become better, not by financial rewards but because I care deeply about what I’m doing.
In fact when I was thinking about applying for the VP job, I tried to think of all the reasons why I shouldn’t apply and, despite accruing a long list of “cons”, I felt as though I still had to do it. I had been fortunate enough to take on the role of acting VP for a year before deciding whether to apply for a permanent vice principalship. As an acting VP, I gained insight into the role of an administrator like never before. Having a greater opportunity to affect positive change on a larger scale was something which I found difficult to give up. My passion for helping people, whether students, staff or parents pulled me along. The need to continue on this new journey far outweighed any of the “cons” on my list and so, here I am.
Ironically, after all these years, I’m studying again to improve my French, picking up where I left off, after being dissuaded from pursuing languages all those years ago. My love of languages is still strong and, what’s more, improving my French has nicely meshed with my job at a French Immersion school. As I’ve become older and hopefully wiser, I realize that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you love what you do. I think those will be my words of wisdom to my son.