“Can I get your autograph?”

This was different.

Pig tails, braids, smiling faces, toothless welcoming grins reached out their pieces of paper towards us. 

“You’re the government! Can we get your autograph? ”

I stifled a laugh, smiled back, looked over at my newly met colleague, shrugged, pulled out a pen, and signed away.

I wondered if all “government” people got greeted this way. I knew better. Knowing what awaited inside, I simply enjoyed the moment and signed my name repeatedly.

The faces I was about to meet inside would be friendly, but not so eager for our arrival.

Looking beyond the friendly faces

You see, I was like the taxman coming for a visit.

Seconded by the Ministry of Education, I served on a Ministry of Education Inspection for another independent school. It literally meant that we were like the taxman coming to visit. We would have to look at everything…basically an audit, but more than just financial records.

Yes, finances were part of it, but so were student records, safety procedures, handbook, board reports, reporting, teacher certification, criminal record checks, time allotment for subject areas, International Programs, Home School Programs, Special Education Programs, Learning Support Services, Library, extra-curricular activities, professional development, and… curriculum. And by curriculum, I mean, EVERY single learning outcome (now curricular competencies) in EVERY subject area and how they were being met and assessed in regards to government prescribed content. 

Sounds like fun!  

Fun for me, yes. 

Same vision, different school

A vice-principal teacher from another school, who has the privilege to walk through the doors of an unfamiliar school and just see how school happens.

I always walk away from the experience a richer person.

Not because I have had the opportunity to go through seemingly thousands of their dotted “i” and crossed “t” documents, but because I have been able to step into another community that practices the same liturgy I do each day. I always feel that I have been enriched just from the experience of being immersed in another school living out the same dream and vision ours does each day, but doing it uniquely different.

These experiences always shape me and challenge my own growth mindset.

But I also know what it is like to be on the receiving end of these visits.

Counting the days?

In November, it is our turn at ACS for a Ministry of Education inspection. We are busy crossing our “t’s” and dotting our “i’s.” We’re ensuring that the new Transforming Education plan is happening in intentional and missional ways at our school. It is a busy time of preparing documentation, dusting our shelves (making sure our files are in order), cleaning the dust bunnies (checking and rechecking that our practices reflect the new curriculum) that may be hiding under our beds, so to speak.

I have a hard time seeing those faces behind the “government.”

But I need to.

I need to recognize that those coming to inspect us are fellow educators, fellow learners, and fellow kingdom builders. We are all working for the same cause…to inspire students to live out their calling through the learning environment we provide.

When they walk away from our school,  just like I have from my former ministry visits, I pray they walk away inspired and enriched for having experienced our school community.

So, if you see me waiting out front on November 1 with a smile on my face and a slip of paper in my hand…feel free to join me in welcoming our friends – the government!