It became a bit of a joke in administration meetings, board meetings, even society meetings. I was tired of hearing that the increase in enrolment was a good problem to have, and I’ll admit that there were times when it did get a little annoying. I always knew that the decisions made when enrolment was going in the other direction were far more difficult…so, yes, it was a good problem.
I have learned—am learning—that obstacles can be opportunities. Okay, that’s a cliché, I know. Enough to cause the English teachers, and a few others, to stop reading perhaps. I promise not to turn this into a philosophical treatise.
Rather, let me share a few stories.
First, one brief disclaimer. I am not so naïve to think that these stories involve decisions embraced by everyone, or that we didn’t make mistakes—plenty of them. There was pain, struggle and likely a few tears.
But there are celebrations as well, some still to come.
The “s” word
Let me start with when enrolment was going the other way. We had to cut classes, which meant letting people go. That’s no fun. We also had to change class make up.
The dreaded “s” word came up.
However, thanks to some forward thinking teachers who saw the gift of collaboration, multi-age classes were developed. It was done more quickly than was wise, perhaps. There was definitely sweat and tears, though I never heard about any blood.
But, students learned to be leaders, to appreciate differences and know how to collaborate.
And teachers will tell you they are better teachers for it.
Enrolment turned around and space constraints forced us to use space more efficiently. We learned to have some fun with it.
If we have COWs, and we need to keep them all in one place, well, that place just has to be a barn, the person in charge is the Herd Boss, and those returning the COWs to the barn are wranglers. Thankfully, these COWs don’t produce any waste. The terminology might have become…messy.
On the fly
This year we realized we had outgrown our building. Do we build? Where? What?
Then, and Steve Atsma gets all the credit on this one, we had the opportunity to not only add classroom space through portables, but much needed parking as well.
And, we finally have an accessibility ramp that allows a student in a wheelchair to go down to the playground safely and, for some, independently—a huge benefit as far as I am concerned! As amazing, and frightening, as it was to watch Lysa Terpstra flying down the hill in her power chair, often with a classmate as a passenger, I can imagine her saying, “It’s about time!”
When Victoria Butler and Sherry Drader were told their classes would not be able to begin the year in the new portables, it didn’t take long for them to come up with a plan to make this an exciting adventure for their students.
Project-based learning (PBL) on the fly—I love it.
And while we were sad to see some hedges and trees come down to make way for the new parking and portables, we realized that the new retaining wall has large planting areas with plenty of room for greenspace. Perhaps this, too, can become opportunity for a project for some classes.
Several people have indicated to me that their goal this year is to be more intentionally positive. Paul says he has learned the secret of being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:12). That is something that requires intentionality; it isn’t simply a personality trait. I dare not say I am there yet, but I am working at it.
Editor’s Note: Just hours before publishing Roy’s post, the elementary school was granted the permit to move in. Below are videos of Roy sharing the news and the ribbon cutting!