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Dear Westdale Class of 2016,

I feel like I am one of you. On Tuesday, September 4, 2012, we all walked into the castle together for our first day at Westdale. For me, it was the beginning of my fourth year of teaching, and I was already entering my seventh school. I was especially hopeful, though, that that would be the year, that Westdale would be the school where I would finally be able to lay down some roots and stay for longer than one semester. I was beyond thrilled to teach French Immersion for the first time, combining my passion and love for each of my subject areas by teaching them in French. And I was surprisingly delighted to be entering a timetable of entirely grade 9 classes, with the hope that you would be the first students I would see through from the first day of grade 9 to your grade 12 graduation.

Watching you all walk across the stage last night filled my heart with pride. The intensity of emotion I felt was almost overwhelming. I’ve taught grade 12 classes in the past and attended grad every year at each school where I worked, but last night was so very special for me. To have even played the smallest part in your passage through the halls of Westdale has been the greatest honour and privilege I may ever know. To have witnessed you learn, grow, and become accomplished young adults has been the most gratifying journey I have ever travelled. To have learned so much from you about teaching, coaching, and mentoring, and about myself, are some of the most important lessons I will ever learn.

From day one, with my Grade 9 French Immersion Drama class on the fourth floor, to my Grade 9 French Immersion Geography class on the third floor, and my Grade 9 Girls’ Physical Education class on the second floor, you kept me constantly on the move and on my toes. I had at least one class of your grade and coached at least one sport for your age level each year. Some of you I have taught two, three, or four times, some of you I have coached in one or many sports, and some of you I have met only briefly. Each one of you has made an impact and holds a special place in my heart as my first group of students I’ve followed all the way through.

I ran early morning and after school practices with you; offered morning, lunch, and after school help sessions for you; chaperoned every one of your school dances, formals, and your prom; took you on athletic and extracurricular field trips; spent hours pouring over, evaluating, and commenting on your inspiring work; spent countless more hours planning lessons, units, and courses. I’ve invested four years in you, and I would never dream of taking back any of those hours for myself. There were wonderful days celebrating your successes, and there were difficult days where I wasn’t giving you my best self. You made me cry both tears of joy and frustration. You made me laugh every single day. You’ve given me more confidence as a teacher and as a leader than any group of students I taught before you. Each and every one of you is beautiful, intelligent, unique, and important.

To the class of 2016: I would wish you good luck in your next endeavours, but I know that you don’t need it. You will all achieve your best wherever you go and in whatever you choose to do. Thank you for being my first true graduating class. You have defined my experience at Westdale since we all started there together in September 2012. Thank you for teaching me so much.

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