To the Editor,
In April 2008, Premier (Robert) Ghiz announced that kindergarten would be entering the school system and Pat Mella was commissioned to make recommendations as to how this transition would take place.
Her report was released in July 2009 in front of early childhood educators, teachers, parents, school board administrators and Department of Education and Early Childhood Development staff.
I was lucky enough to be the chairman of the Kindergarten Transition Team that was responsible for ensuring that everything would be in place in less than 14 months. Within minutes of the announcement, the transition team was in place and working. I always wonder if those who were not directly involved ever understood the magnitude of the task ahead.
I know that team members certainly had a “deer in the headlights” look on that day. And although I never had the pleasure of working with a more devoted group of individuals as the kindergarten transition team, this is not about them.
When decisions are made by governments and organizations, there are bound to be people affected. In looking back on that fateful day, I always remember that the team had two major concerns; ensuring the children would be well served and ensuring that the early childhood educators that were affected by this transition be treated with the utmost respect and care.
These educators were already highly skilled individuals who worked with five-year-old children and understood them better than any of us who were more accustomed to a school system than an early learning system. They had been doing the job and now we were asking them to get an Education degree, to be interviewed for a job and to change jobs and enter a whole new education system.
In the middle of all this, we all new that life would happen; wedding, pregnancies, illnesses, separations, births and moves would continue to happen. Yet these educators were being asked to work full-time while embarking on a three- or four-year journey that would see them earn a bachelor of education degree.
I met and saw every single one of them at one time or another. I saw excitement, fear, anxiety, elation and all the feelings that come with starting something new. I spoke to some during this journey as they taught my grandchildren, attended events or bumped into me at the grocery store.
Recently, these educators whose lives were turned upside down got their hard earned degree. I was not able to attend their graduation but I want it known that they are to be highly congratulated for their achievements. They are to be celebrated and honoured as the most amazing group of dedicated and passionate individuals one could encounter. I was truly blessed to know you and we are so lucky to have our children in your hands.
Be thankful when you meet one of them as it means you have just met a wonderful role model for all of us. Congratulations all!
Former Assistant Deputy Minister, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development