Karin Paterson's Farewell Speech June 29, 2016
This is dedicated to the staff of Polaris Montessori.
I believe farewells are one of the hardest things we humans have to do. I know that we will never again see our children exactly as they are today. This farewell is a marker of one more precious year passed. It is a time when we acknowledge the moments we regret; the moments we should have rested longer just to be in a child's excitement or a hug, and the moment we realize we made a difference.
Over the past weeks, since the news of re-assignment, I have had to dig deep to prepare myself to say goodbye to you, to what we have grown together, and what I have come to love.
Dr. Montessori believed education needed to be a "help to life" and a "bright, new hope" for humanity. I have felt the weight of the responsibility to Dr. Montessori's vision for a peaceful world through its youngest citizens. I have made many, many mistakes. But in making those mistakes, I learned that I was doing hard enough work. I learned that mistakes are the key to the best learning because of who we become after we have made a mistake.
In my years as a parent and an educator, I know we aren't in this to make our children do homework, to make children survive high school, or to make our children workers in a competitive market. We are here to support the development of free thinkers. We want our children to explore their vital minds and compassionate hearts. We want our school to be a home away from home that starts with relationships, builds up collaboration, and allows each one of us to follow our strengths, passions and interests. We want our children to be artists, readers, researchers, authors, and mathematicians so they can know the world and influence it. We want our children to be aware that good can prevail, that hard work can bring about change, and that we can predict the future when we have strong hearts and hands creating that future.
We chose the name Polaris because it is another name for the North Star. As Earth rotates our North pole stays aligned with the North Star which allows travelers to stay on their true path. Dr. Montessori knew that children have are born with that inner guide, and it is our roles as families and educators to nurture it through a loving and prepared environment.
I want to read words from Marianne Williamson who wrote the book A Return to Love: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? …We are all meant to shine, as children do. …. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Students, I want you to know that when I work with you, I don't feel like a principal; I feel like your mom. Staff, I want you to know that you are far more than a team of colleagues rather you are brothers and sisters. Families, I know you have entrusted me and us with your children every day. We have learned to be better because of you and for you. It has been my greatest honour to be a small part of this Montessori community. This is my good-bye. Thank you.