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Pam Reflection

IMG_8781Thank you… family friends, Rabbis, colleagues, parents – I am truly honoured to be recognized in such grand fashion and want to thank each of you for being here tonight. I feel so lucky to have had 22 years at HBT with so many of you.

Teachers want to impart information that will be meaningful, memorable and hold the audience’s attention. I am going to try to take the advice of George Burns who said “the secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending and to have the two as close together as possible.”

Over the last few months I have received countless e-mails from well wishers and I thank you. I have kept each and every one.

I always run into parents/alumnae in grocery stores, Starbucks, street corners or restaurants who of course wish me well and say:

IMG_8777“When are you retiring?
“you must be scared, no?”
“Are you sad?
“Bet you are so happy”
“didn’t you retire yet?”
“how you feel about retirement?”
“What you going to do everyday?”
“Retiring? That’s fantastic?”
(for whom is it fantastic?)

Yes, I am retiring from my role as Director. Yes, it IS fantastic! I am happy about the decision as it is the right time for me. Yes,I do find it all very scary as I have been working for 40 plus year. Yes, it is bittersweet. I will miss the people both big and small and what am i going to do? I’m not retiring from life! I’m going to Live!!! I am going to do ALL the things that i have always been wanting to do but never had time. I’m going to travel when it is NOT high season like summer and winter break. I ‘m going to walk alot, bike more and get together with friends without having to squeeze in time, play mahjong, catch up on my scrapbooking, volunteer way more, actually finish a book for my monthly book club, play with my grandchildren, take advantage of all the cultural events that take place in this wonderful city during the work week….and hopefully much more.

Yes, I am retiring from the role as Director or, as I have been called over the years, I am retiring from my role as ‘Leader of the school, Guard, Boss, the head of the people, the ruler, Principal, diwector, Princess of the school’ and my best, the ‘prisoner’of the school. I did feel that way sometimes. Yes, I have been called alot of names….

Travel back with me for a moment, and we will travel in a full circle.

IMG_8779I began my Jewish education at the age of 4, here at HBT. I challenge you all to point me out in a consecration picture hanging outside the activity room! No hints about the year! I trained as an ECE at Humber college and got my first teaching job at Temple Sinai. Then, a couple of years teaching in New Jersey and then at Hillcrest Progressive school in Hogs Hollow and then, back to humber college as a Professor for 9 years in the ECE dept and then….in 1994, Lorraine Sandler presenting me the opportunity of a lifetime! I returned to Holy Blossom to take on a 4 month maternity leave. I was so happy to be back in an EC centre and here I am, 264 months later! Thank you Lorraine for being by my side then and for being with me here today and all the way along.

My youngest child, Leah attended HB in 1997 in Kita Aleph; she’s now going to grad school.I had my Bat Mitzvah here in 1999 working with Dalia and Rabbi Marmur. While at HB, over the past number of years I have had the pleasure of welcoming the children of my students from both Temple Sinai and Hillcrest Progressive! And this coming Fall, my grandson will be entering the pre-nursery program! So, I’m not really leaving….I am going to be called another name: “Designated Pick up person – a.k.a. Bubby.” I actually am looking forward to standing in the pick up line.

IMG_8784I have been privileged to welcome over 2000 children and their families to HBT and I want to say thank you to all of who have been a part of my life and taught me so much. If I have inspired others as much as many of you have inspired me, I know I will have been successful. ECEs may receive very small paycheques but we receive huge and I mean huge rewards. We are witnesses to such tremendous growth over the course of a year let alone 2 years! We enjoy smiles, hugs, kisses, cuddles, giggles and of course, squeals of delight in accomplishment or fun and we are privy to their incredible responses to life and home life… (what is told to teachers at HBT stays at HBT – so relax). …I could write a great book!

Parents often ask me how different children are now than 40 years ago. While the times we live in have changed, Children have not….

while what I am about to say may not resonate in this quick paced, get more, go faster, do better world, it is important to remember that – children must unfold in their own time. Children must still gain their own wisdom through their own experiences. Wisdom is not information or a skill or expertise. It is instead what CHILDREN gain from a combination of doing and thinking, living and learning from THEIR living. Wisdom correlates with aging. We have to let them experience disappointment and frustration, make mistakes, fall down and learn to get back up. Resilience is one of the best gifts you can give.

IMG_8778As I have aged over my tenure here, I too have become wiser, stronger and more resilient because of my own experiences and challenges that I faced each day. Thank you for that too!

But I can’t take most of the credit for all your experiences and great memories. It is the super talented teachers that I must pay tribute to. I want to thank my wonderful colleagues over all the 22 years for their support, friendship and for being the finest examples of what it is to serve faithfully and with humility and love. I will always feel like we are family as we have shared what families share: laughter, joy, trials, losses, simchas, illness, struggles, successes and our nachos moments. We went through them all together. I will miss being with you each day but I am forever grateful for your committment and trust and the enormous collection of shared experiences indelibly printed in my heart. It has been an exciting journey andthank you for being my travel companions .

To all the parents who have been along with me, who shared their concerns, who made great suggestions, who lent hands and time. You were true partners in the school experience and were always gracious in their appreciation. I thank you for entrusting me with your most precious possessions.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to run a school. I couldn’t have done it without Jim and his crew who were always ready with a mop, vacuum or hammer – Terry for keeping us safe – Russ….for being such a mensch and a a fabulous juggler of many many flying pieces. To all the school office staff – Annie, Lily, Sara, Lisa, Dalia for your support and comraderie and to all the office admin staff – thank you all for all you do each day. Benjamin Applebaum and Gary Posen, past Executive Directors who always opened their doors for me – thank you. My appreciation to all the wonderful rabbis who have dedicated time from their busy schedules to be sure that the children experienced all that the Temple had to offer. And of course to Debbie Spiegel, my ‘Bubby Buddy’. You have been a mentor, a colleague and a wonderful friend. I will miss you.

IMG_8774I must also give a heartfelt shout out to Greg. No he was not one of the staff. He is my husband who has been on this journey with me…for 264 months plus 13 years encouraging me, always asking about the daily goings on, always supporting, always willing to listen to the struggles and all the ‘cute anecdotes’ I just had to share. Thank you for contributing to both my personal and professional growth.

We never really know at the time just how much impact an experience or teachers can have on a young children and their parents. It is often a few years later that I come to learn about friendships that have continued for years because of their association with HBT. I am referring to both children and parents. I have also come to learn that many parents still remember conversations we had together and how some advise or thoughts still resonate to this day. These are such lovely things for me to hear. I will continue to delight in what ‘my children from HBT are doing and will continue to look forward to updates in grocery stores, Starbucks, street corners, restaurants.

To my successor, Jessica, you are not here to fill or walk in my shoes. Your shoes will be the best fit. From our few weeks together, I am completely confident that you will blaze your own unique, thoughtful trail…one with clear sense of direction. We have had a great month together and I look forward to being a Bubby while you are the ECC ‘Diwector.’

I had a great beginning in ECE and I have most certainly had a great professional ending to my 40 plus years and can say that the beginning and end felt very close together. I Hope you have felt the same!

The wonderful Dr. Seuss wrote: “Don’t cry because something is over, rather, smile because something has happened” I am soooo happy that HB happened.

Todah Rabah. Thank you all for being here.
I’m not going to say good-bye but L’hitraot. I’ll see you around the neighbourhood in the day time as I will no longer be a ‘prisoner’.

And from all of us at Holy Blossom let me say “May you be blessed in all your comings and your goings”……

Shalom….

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