Kwantlen Park is the fourth school in my education career. I remember the first time that I moved schools. My first school, Tamanawis, was all I had ever known. I had forged great friendships there and felt a true connection to that school. Moving to Panorama Ridge – a brand new school in Surrey, in a new leadership position was a surreal experience. I felt like that first year teacher again. I had to forge new relationships and become reconnected to a new environment.
However, I refused to let go of Tamanawis. I often visited the school for whatever reason I could think of. It was great to continue relationships with a place that was dear to my hear. I remember at the end of my first administration year, I was invited back to Tamanawis for their year end barbeque. I was truly in the best of both worlds.
Life at the Ridge was swimming along perfectly until I was yanked unexpectedly in the summer of my third year. I was transferred to a new school, Sullivan Heights. Demographically, Sullivan was quite different from my previous two schools despite being only 5 minutes down the street. All that work at establishing relationships was gone. Suddenly, the frailty of being an administrator became clear to me. We were at the whim of the school board as they determined the needs of the district. However, in hindsight, working at Sullivan Heights was a blessing in disguise. I was allowed to flourish and mentor a junior VP.
As I worked at Sullivan, I again refused to give up on the relationships that I had made previously. I would continue to visit those schools keeping some semblance of a link alive. It was during my time at Sullivan that I heard the expression, “You can never go home again” for the first time. I was told by my mentor principal at Panorama Ridge that I needed to let go of the past. The funny part was that he told me just after I had been transferred and was sitting in his office on one of my visits.
I just don’t understand the expression. Why can’t you go home again? I know some principals that rarely visit their previous schools no matter the circumstance. One was a long term principal at a school for nine years, yet he felt no allegiance when he transferred. His explanation was in the fact that the old school was part of his past, he was moving forward.
My argument exists in the fact that looking into the past allows you to move forward. If you can make great relationships, I think you need to continue to cultivate those. Going home allows you a reflective piece but also perhaps a validation of your practice. If we exist on this earth as integrated organisms, shouldn’t we go out of our way to stay linked? Many of my friends have grown up with me in our careers. I have remained friends with them despite my moves from school to school. Relationships have formed the cornerstone of my leadership and will continue to define the way that I do things in my life and my career.
Maybe going home isn’t a backwards motion but a continuation of your life’s journey.