Submitted by Cara Waddell on
I will be leaving Nerstrand School at the end of this year. Leaving and change make all of us reflect on the moments that brought us to this point. I am fortunate enough that because I have taught for 33 years, I have reached something called Rule of 90. This Rule, which has to do with my pension, is an important milestone for educators. It allowed my husband and I to realize we had options in regards to our work and made us both look more closely at this next part of our lives. The pandemic has made many of us think more deeply about what is important to us and of how precious and fleeting our time is on this planet. I look forward to spending more time in my garden, traveling with my husband, subbing and doing meaningful work in whatever form that takes.
Deciding to leave Nerstrand School has not been an easy decision, but I feel I am ready and that passing the torch to the next set of educators is a positive thing. Of course leaving has also made me reflective about my time at Nerstrand School.
Our staff and the many colleagues I have worked with is something I cherish. I have made lifelong friends because of this school and have learned so much from the people that I have taught alongside of. I am deeply appreciative of our teachers and paras. Staff members come to our school because they want to be in this small setting, where everyone knows the children. Teachers, just like families, have choices about where they can teach. Our teachers are here because they feel connected to students and supported by all their colleagues. They stay because they believe in the mission of our school. They are creative, empathetic, loving, intelligent and dedicated to their work. I have taught in a variety of settings and I know that Nerstrand goes the extra mile to make staff members feel connected and appreciated. A current teacher told me that "a tough day at Nerstrand is better than my best day at a previous school”. I know that our staff is dedicated to what our little school brings to students and that dedication doesn't evaporate when staff members leave. As a member of the pioneering group that converted Nerstrand to a public charter school, we knew that the success and life of the school depended on a group of creative and determined educators and not just one or two people.
Contracted professionals that work at our school, comment on the atmosphere within our staff and how welcome they feel coming to Nerstrand School. We certainly have had our ups and downs but overall this is a good place to work. That atmosphere and trust within our staff trickles down to our students and families. It's hard to work in a place where people are unhappy. We focus a lot of attention on the atmosphere of the school for our students, but that loving, family feeling that children and parents feel has to come from a place of truth and respect among colleagues. It is something that our staff consciously works on, to ensure we support each other and can then support children and families.
I speak for Barb Grote and myself, when I tell families that we are leaving this school that we love in good hands. I am thankful to the staff members that are currently working at Nerstrand. A school is a living thing that changes over time. Change is necessary in order to stay relevant. It is the give and take between staff, families, children and community that makes a school successful.
Thank you for all the good wishes from families and students. I have heard many touching student comments about my leaving since my announcement. Yesterday, a first grader told me that I need to be sure to let the next Director know that the first graders like to play Crazy 8's and Spot it during indoor recess (these are both card games in my cupboard). It's on the top of my list to share with the next Director!