The End of the Season

A look at two of my favourite teams

I am one of those people who like to keep busy and as a result, I have a lot of hobbies and routines throughout the year.  I enjoy time with my family, time on my own, and spending time with friends and colleagues alike.  Those who know me well would say a couple of things that I really enjoy spending my time doing are going to school and playing hockey. 

The end of the NHL regular season and the playoffs are complete, and our school year is now almost done too.  While putting together the list of staff to celebrate who are not returning to Rockridge in the fall, I got looking at our staff photo from Opening Day in August 2022.  I couldn’t help but see the resemblance to the NHL team photos that are taken each season.  Since I often refer to the Rockridge staff as a team, I thought I would explore the similarities and differences I see in the end of the NHL season and the end of the school year.

I must begin by explaining I have thought about writing on this topic now for two months.  In late April I really started to fondly reflect on my first year at Rockridge and felt proud of my leadership and the positivity and determination of my colleagues.  One might say I was looking back at the first eight months of the school year in the same way an NHL team would review their regular season play.

We successfully launched the school year under a new head coach (me) and made it to the Christmas break feeling upbeat about our collaboration, teamwork and positive influence on school culture and student learning.  Next, we set our sights on maintaining our momentum to Spring Break.  This translates loosely to the All-Star break in the NHL which is a defining time for teams.  When we return from the break (All-Star or Spring), the end of the season is in sight and will be upon you quickly if you are not planning effectively and staying sharp.  That is exactly what the Rockridge team was able to do.  We utilized our department coordinators and staff meetings to stay on top of communication and planning.  We worked effectively in professional development situations and MYP collaboration blocks.  We provided students with an abundance of real-world investigation opportunities through events like field trips while continuing to acknowledge and celebrate student and staff accomplishments.  In short, the Rockridge team kept their energy high, and simply pushed through with a determined spirit putting the needs of the students (and our team) ahead of individual accomplishments and challenges. 

An NHL team would typically highlight how different players stepped up at different times during the regular season to help create the team’s success.  That too is exactly what the Rockridge team did; we had participation and leadership from every staff member in different roles in and out of the classroom in 2022-23.  For example, this year we had multiple team coaches, arts performance leaders, presentations of learning in different departments, club sponsors, event planners and above all, participation from staff in special events such as our graduation ceremonies.  So, upon review of our regular season, I feel like we should be proud of our accomplishments and feel as if we finished strong and at the top of our division in the west.

The Playoffs for the NHL have a definitive start date in April.  For schools, the Playoffs seem to start once we have some consistent warm weather and students are sensing the end of June approaching.  This is when the Rockridge staff really dug in this year and got creative with their planning and diversified their lessons by bringing in unique learning opportunities and trips.  Other sources of a successful start to the Playoffs were our spring sports.  Not only did we field a lot of different teams, but student participation was higher than expected and our Raven teams saw a lot of success, especially in soccer, tennis, badminton, ultimate and rugby.

Like an NHL team we can reflect on our Playoff run and evaluate both successes and areas for growth.  While I personally feel like the Rockridge staff (team) will hoist the Stanley Cup at the end of the week, the best part of 2022-23 is that most, if not all our team, would feel we have had a great season and accomplished playoff run.  It is that collective sense of teamwork and success throughout the Rockridge school community that makes me feel proud of our school.

When NHL teams review their playoff run, it often results in rebuilding for the next season.  This is coupled with changes in management, player trades and retirement announcements.  Even teams that win the Stanley Cup see players and coaches move.  These kinds of changes are something I have come to expect at my school each year too.  After twenty years as a school administrator, rarely does my team not undergo some changes as the lives and career goals of my staff influence movement for September.  As I reflected above, the Rockridge staff have truly won the Stanley Cup this year as we have proven ourselves an excellent team who create positive results for students.  Even with this status, we too will see change for next year in our ranks.  For me, it can be hard to think about matching our 2022-23 success without certain staff members to start next season, but as NHL teams do as well, we will regroup, focus on the new player’s strengths, and create new team goals for 2023-24.

Our team will see changes for a variety of reasons for the September start up.  Behind the bench, vice-principal Jennifer Towers is moving to WVSS.  This change in management will require adjustment for Rockridge, but I know it is a positive opportunity for JT.  Similarly with the arrival of Stewart Baker from WVSS as our new vice-principal, he will bring a new perspective and energy to support staff and students alike.  Player (teacher) trades don’t exactly happen as in NHL free agency for us, but with two leave requests – Ms. Eng and Ms. Winkler, a part time leave or healthy scratch – Mr. Pandher, two maternity leaves – Ms. Keast and Ms. Peterson and three teachers moving – Ms. Fernandez, Ms. Jang and Ms. Froese, we have some significant changes to our starting lineup for the new season.  Finally, with the retirement of Mr. Henning from our design shop and Ms. Evans in the office, we are going to have to step up and find ways to manage without their long-time expertise and influence.

With this in mind, I am excited to announce that we have some excellent new staff members (trades and draft picks) coming to Rockridge for 2023-24.  They all bring different skill sets that will help complete our team and fill the gaps in our departments created by those who are not returning in September.  I am pleased to welcome Sean Pratt – Spanish, Matt Robson – Inclusive Learning Support, Curtis Campbell – Science, Scott Rickard – Math, Moreno Stefanon – Math, Maria Dawson – Indigenous Success, Jennifer Murray-Turner – Counselling and Elaine Teubes – Office Staff.

Funny enough, the Rockridge Student Awards day and NHL Player Awards were on the same day this year.  Maybe that is a coincidence that only I would have picked up on, but it made me smile and reinforced how my love of school and hockey can coexist.  Of course, Rockridge recognized hundreds of students at our awards this week for a variety of achievements and did not only honour the top student or two in the school (league).

So, as we wrap up this final week of the year and look ahead to summer vacation (the NHL off season), I already have my sights on the next season and our Opening Day 2023 in August, when we begin the pre-season training camp for West Vancouver Schools.



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