September 21, 2012

Meet the Teacher Night: An overview for those unable to attend

Dear Parents and Guests,

I’m trying something different tonight. I’m writing you a letter.  There are several reasons for this. One is because I have a story to tell and I want to get it right.  

This is my dog.  Her name was Winnie and I’m not going to lie, she might have been the greatest dog that ever lived. 

There’s a bit of a back story here. 
I bought Winnie for myself when I turned 25. I was single, just started  teaching and ready to take on the world, just me and my dog.  
Soon, I met my husband Paul, we got married and as they say, the rest is history.
Last month, at the age of 15 years and three months, we put Winnie down.  I agonized over this decision for several months.  I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone. 

On the day we put her down, I took her to the park just up the street from our house. It was part of our morning routine and I wanted her to have one last visit.  Buses once on our street and there are several concrete pads that mark the former stops. 

That morning, standing on one of the stops, was an elderly lady. I had never seen her before. This neatly dressed woman looked exactly as you might imagine.  Her hair was perfect, she wore a cardigan and carried the kind of purse filled with all kinds of grandmotherly goodies. She was obviously waiting for someone. In fact,  I was worried she thought it was still a stop and I considered letting her know.  I soon realized she knew exactly what she was doing and I needed to mind my own business. 

As Winnie and I walked toward her on our way to the park, she stopped me and said, “What a beautiful dog. How old is she?” As she patted Winnie on the head,  I replied and told her, “15".  The lady looked me in the eye and with the voice of an angel said, “Well, you have been blessed.”  

What remarkable words on such a heartbreaking day.  I didn’t tell the lady what was about to happen just a few hours later. I couldn’t. I was stunned that I was hearing exactly what I needed to hear, from a complete stranger who just happened to be standing on my quiet street.  When we arrived at the park, I looked back and her ride was arriving, she got in the car and I’ve never seen her since.  I am pretty sure she was an angel.  

That brings me to the reason I share this story with you: She told me I was blessed.  And I am. As hard as it was to say goodbye to my dog, I was blessed to have her in my life for 15 years. This grandma angel really gave me something to think about. To love what you do for a living, really love it, to share your gifts with others, to impart knowledge, to laugh and create and then go home and share your life with your best friend? That’s blessed and I’m grateful. 

So why share this story with you?  Well, because one person can make a profound difference in our lives.  Since that encounter, I’ve become more aware of just how blessed my life is.  What a difference just a few words can make. And now, as we begin a new school year, I hope I too can make a difference in your child’s life. I hope the year ahead is full of all kinds of memories, adventures. lessons and goals achieved. I hope that years from now your children look back on their year in grade three and feel as blessed as I do that we had this time together. 

Patti Mihalides

My Teaching Principles (video)


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