“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” (Henry Ford)
Six years ago I had the amazing opportunity to open a new school in the community of Cranston. It was a new community on the absolute opposite end of the city of Calgary from where I had lived for 15 years - I had never heard of the community before, nor had any idea how to drive to it! Over the past six years I have come to truly appreciate the value of collaboration - between teachers, support staff, parents, students, communities and the school system - because without the strength of collaboration, I don't think this school would be nearly as successful a learning centre as it has become. In fact, I know that it would not!
Today, I am contemplating the upcoming professional move I will be making to open another school, Eric Harvie School in the community of Tuscany. Although I am geographically more familiar with the location, the same challenges are clearly on the horizon - the need to build strong collaborative connections to ensure the successful launch of a new and exciting centre of learning.
Doing the business of school means finding ways to bring everyone together with common goals and understanding of how we will work together to achieve these goals. Engaging in open conversations without judgment will allow us to build confidence in each other and assist us to appreciate the importance of working together for the good of each other and the children who will learn in this new school. Flexibility will need to be paramount in our work - for every hard and fast answer we seek, there will be as many possible solutions to be considered carefully. There must be - at all times - an all-encompassing, pervasive professionalism to ensure the pillars we build as fundamental are about the common good of all rather than the express needs of a few. And - the real challenge - all questions and decisions must be completely grounded in one question: Is this what's best for kids?
Opening schools - and keeping them vibrant, focused, successful learning environments - is not work for the feint of heart. It requires a deep commitment to collaboration that must be unwavering - even when decisions need to be made that are not collectively supported but in the best interests of students, collaboration is still required to build appreciation of the decisions. Sometimes collaboration can be exhausting - just as frequently, it is exhilarating too. But without it, doing the business of school is pretty much impossible.
I have so appreciated the willingness of the Cranston stakeholders to collaborate even when it was not easy! The Cranston School story is one of success on so many levels - and the roadmap we have designed together links to the new roadmap we will generate for Eric Harvie School. Yet another form of collaboration vital to doing the business of school.
Lorraine Kinsman, Principal