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Making a difference.....from start to finish......

by sandy.mcdonald,
I had the great pleasure of working as a second year teacher with Sheldon Rowe as my vice principal. Sheldon retired as Superintendent of the Peace Wapiti Public School Division a few years ago. As part of his role in 1992, Sheldon taught my grade 8 students Social Studies, and he would come into my room to teach them. If you know Sheldon, you know he is an outstanding person, and it was an excellent year. The culture of the school that Sheldon and our principal nurtured made it a great place to work. Two memorable highlights stand out for me that year, however. First, I still remember the day Sheldon casually mentioned the state of my classroom and teacher desk. The way I remember it, which may not be exactly how Sheldon shared his message, he made a comment to the effect that my desk was pretty messy and unorganized and if I didn't clean it up there might be some pretty significant consequences. :) That was the most impactful feedback I'd received to that point in my career, and while my desks have remained busy places over the years, I have never forgotten our conversation about the importance of planning and organization. The second highlight of that year I developed appreciation for years later. Throughout the year, I received some amazingly thoughtful gifts from my 'Secret Pal'. At the end of the year I learned that Sheldon was my Secret Pal, and over time I learned just how thoughtful the gifts he gave a beginning teacher were. I still have the small set of precision screwdrivers, used many times to help students fix their glasses, in my (messy) desk drawer.


We only worked together that one year, but much later in our careers our paths crossed again when I became Superintendent of Schools for a division neighbouring Sheldon's. I was blessed with an excellent mentor through CASS (thank you Betty Turpin) that first year, but on several occasions that first year I would also get a call or a text from Sheldon that started "I know you're very busy, and you might not have thought of this, but did you know XXXX is coming up in a couple of weeks?" Or something like that. The reminders were important, but more important to me was knowing that another colleague was out there and offering to help when he did not need to do so. I know well how busy Sheldon was with his own work and knowing that he was thinking about my experience at times offered both practical support and made a difference in my personal wellness as well. Thank you for the great lessons Sheldon...

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