I’m not exactly a courageous person.

I distinctly remember the fear that crawled up my spine when my mom asked me to get something from the basement as a kid. Our below-ground “dungeon” was unfinished, sported a low ceiling, limited lighting, only two half windows, and a number of resident spiders who felt right at home in their corners. As a creative person, I can see now that my imagination often got the best of me in those moments — I was confident there was someone hiding behind one of the posts that interrupted my view of the whole room.

I can imagine the exasperation of my mom as I begged not to have to run down to grab her something needed for that night’s meal.

Me: “Can Chrissie do it?” (My younger sister was much braver than I)

Mom: “It’s not a big deal. Suck it up and be a man.”(My mother was a strong believer in no-nonsense, tough parenting — and apparently didn’t buy into gender stereotypes either).

So, I would “suck it up,” take a deep breath, race down the stairs, grab what was needed, and race back up the stairs — checking behind me the whole time in case someone was following close behind.

These Six Words

Fast forward way too many years, and I’m now the marketing coordinator at ACS. My main task is to implement and manage the brand of our school (which, I’ll throw in, is far more than just colours and fonts). A main component of our brand is what we call “personality words.” These six words focus the “how” of what we do. How do we education children? How do we communicate with parents? How do we present our school to the outside world? The answer is that in every activity and task we are:


A few of these personality words come naturally to me. Others not so much. For example, (you saw it coming didn’t you?)…courageous.

I might appear to be all muscle (thanks to my mom’s sincere effort to toughen me up), but it’s not entirely genuine.

Maybe that’s why courageous has stood out to me as the ACS “personality word of the year.” Let me explain.

From a Fresh Start to Taking Risks

When Maury Thiessen moved from the grade 5 classroom at the elementary that he inhabited for 32 years to start fresh at a new campus, in a new room, with new staff mates, to help start the new grade 5 program at the middle — he was courageous!

When Amy Morrow and the other grade 6 teachers realized they would have to completely rethink Market Day and took on creating an online store with their students, they were courageous!

When Corinna Richmond started her first year as a teacher in September, during a pandemic, knowing she would need to support her grade 5 students and their parents with the added stress this year would bring — she was courageous!

When Kristin Schut (shameless plug for my son’s teacher this year) had to live in the uncertainty of not knowing when she (and the other grade 7-8 teachers) would move into the new middle school classrooms — she was courageous!

When (insert the names of every educational assistant) dons their cloth mask to work one-on-one, sometimes in close proximity, with the students they support, they are courageous!

When Denny An disinfects the middle school, over and over, all day every day, with a smile, he is courageous!

When every ACS parent sends their kids off to school, trusting others to keep them safe, never mind provide a great education, they are courageous!

When a student who lives with anxiety, makes the decision every morning to walk through the school doors, they are courageous!

So that leaves me and my lack of courage, inspired to “suck it up,” be a strong woman (take that mom), and face the fears that come my way — the biggest of which is heading down to the dark, “dungeon” basement below the secondary library, where my large-format printer is stored, and facing off with the spider living in the corner.