Month: June 2013

In Their Words

Today, following our school’s annual awards ceremony, I sat on the grass and watched students and teachers play soccer. I was too spent to move. I had kicked off my shoes, I had crossed my legs and was just soaking it all in. One student was playing soccer in flip-flops and a pink dress; some kids where eating tubes of frozen yogurt. Everyone was laughing. A mom of one of my senior students (and  an educational assistant in our school) came and sat next to me. I rested my head in my hands and we cried together, softly.

Though there’s a week of school yet, today at the annual awards ceremony, the school, the community, the students and I formally said farewell.

In the students’ words:

Dear Ms. Saas,

Thank you for being our teacher. Thank you for being one of my true friends, I look to you as a mother because I know her kindness will always be with me. Thank you for always believing in us, always giving us the opportunities to do things that we never imagined would be possible. Thank you for always making us smile, and hurting our brains. Thank you for always making us feel part of a family in our school. Thank you for bringing out your Darth Vader voice when we needed it.

Thank you for being a role model, an inspiration, someone who always listens, a best friend, a guide, the other, the call to action, the Yoda in our lives. Thank you for never giving up, for teaching us to respond with kindness and to always put the extr


a effort in. Thank you for sharing your stories, and for giving us a safe space to share ours.

We hope and know that you will have an amazing experience at John Chisholm, we promise to continue sharing what you have thought us, and we will share our stories. Thank you, you will not be forgotten.


Always, love Ms. Saas


Strong in Mess

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much I like staying connected with kids. It’s a messy topic.

Here’s what I know. And it’s not much.

About every month or so, my daughter goes out for coffee and a muffin with her former grade six resource teacher. My daughter is in grade ten. Actually, she’s almost in grade eleven. Their suppers are at Tim’s and sometimes they run close to five hours. They talk and talk. The teacher is incredibly dear to my daughter, Jess.

I joyfully support their relationship. The more positive supports in Jess’ life the more likely she is to make positive choices, or so I believe. Sure, Jess shares the messy business of our life with this teacher. Life is messy. Sometimes, it was extraordinarily messy. It still can be at times. Sometimes, Jess needs to share with someone other than me.

I get this.

I’m not so closed that I believe my family or myself can be or will always be everything for Jess. She needs safe people. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather ‘safe people’ be like that amazing grade six teacher who told Jess that her stutter just didn’t matter rather than someone who only listened to Jess’ common story.

See, that teacher and I are a team.

About four weeks ago, right out of the blue, on a Sunday morning, she called me. We are a team. She’d heard some things about some kids in Jess’s world and she felt she needed to check in, sort of a mom-to-mom. I was so moved, so honoured to have someone love my kid that much. She’s a mom too, after all. And let me tell you, she’s a teacher too; she was nervous as heck calling me. The truth is, she loves my kid more than our friendship; Jess’ safety came first – and I sure do like that!

She didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, that Jess and hadn’t discussed at the end of the day, sitting perched on the bed talking into the wee hours. ‘Cause we share, we story, all the time.

Still, I did share with Jess what the teacher had shared. It is good to be so profoundly loved and looked after. Around here, in August, my Dad begins worrying about the snow that might begin to fall and for my safety on the highway; being loved is good.

As I shared this story some folks asked if I was offended.

It takes a community to raise a child; this isn’t a line, it the messy resonance of truth. Long ago, I understood that our stories, messy as they may seem, need safe harbors. The grade six teacher is one. I like that Jess has other moms. This list just grows and grows. As it does, it makes the two us so strong.

I don’t know if I have a point. I know I have a student whom I taught six years ago that I speak with every week, without fail. He is like family to me. I know he’s not my son, though at times, he feels like it.

Sometimes I don’t understand this notion of family or community while at other times, I sense it in my bones.

Love is messy. Life is too. Positive connections make everything more beautiful.