This morning, I had the pleasure of welcoming parents for our first p’tit déj – a breakfast event that will take place every month until the end of the year. It was an excellent opportunity for me to take the pulse of the school and to identify the issues that matter to our families – what they worry about, what they are happy with, what disappoints them, what they like, and what they like a little less.

We covered many different topics and, rather than finish at 9:30 a.m. as planned, the conversation ran on until 10:15 a.m. with a few die-hard moms (leaving me short of time to write this letter this morning, hence the late hour you are receiving it tonight!) On the agenda: bilingualism, the academic calendar, Middle School, our facilities, and class lists (among others).

The first thing that shone through is the passion our parents have for The École. Those who came to have a coffee with Benoît and me this morning were enthusiastic to get together – some of them had never met before –  and talk about our school. The second thing that struck me is how diverse our community is, and how that diversity is expressed, naturally, through different needs and expectations. Our role at The École is to bring all of the strengths and differences of our community together into a successful synthesis.

It starts with listening (and I know I owe you some answers to the satisfaction survey you completed before the winter break, they’re coming soon I promise!) so we can determine what is at stake for the families that attend The École. Taking a sidestep and listening to what parents have to say gives me a clear vision of the consequences of my decisions. I garner and will continue to garner precious information from this dialogue about what it means to experience The École “from the other side.” I always leave these conversations with plenty of food for thought and ideas for how we can work to better serve our families, even if I don’t always have an immediate answer to the questions that are posed.

Finding answers, implementing improvements, and anticipating requests don’t necessarily mean settling for a compromise. I believe the opposite is true. I believe they involve drawing up a common, unifying route map.  As I mentioned in a recent letter, if our mission and our identity are strong and solid then the actions we take will be supported. It seems, for example, highly unlikely that everyone will agree on the ideal school calendar but if the choices we make are explained and justified, then they will be respected.

Making choices is a big part of my job (and I always annoy someone every time I make one!) Rather than looking for the impossible amalgam, I prefer (and I think you know me pretty well by now) to set a goal and explain it to you repeatedly- or should that be ramblingly? – every Friday!  I practice my profession in such good conditions today thanks to the quality of the dialogue that I have with all of you and thanks to the intelligence of all those who work alongside me: colleagues, students, teachers, and of course families. I am infinitely grateful to you all.

To those of you who couldn’t make it today, I hope to see you at a future p’tit déj – the croissants alone are worth it!