Looking for the Helpers - by coach B

Back in my day, school bathrooms were not the most inspiring of places. I think back in horror to the foul and inconsiderate things my peers would do to vandalize the bathrooms. The ceilings of my elementary school bathroom were caked with wet toilet paper balls (think: giant spitballs) and the walls were scraped and littered with writing. It was so chaotic and messy, that I recall being scared to go to the bathroom alone.

Thankfully, things look a little different in the bathroom stalls at Blue Sky School. Every teacher and parent cherishes a bathroom break, but for me, there’s something particularly special about being surrounded by the graffitied walls at Blue Sky. The bathroom walls, “vandalized” with positive, uplifting, and encouraging messages, are a daily reminder of the values and habits that Karen and Shauna, our co-founders, have instilled in our learners. These little stalls are a microcosm of the work Karen and Shauna have tirelessly put into creating a culture that celebrates the positive and recognizes greatness in everyone.

Opportunities for celebration and connection were thoughtfully woven into the Blue Sky program, and as coaches, we challenge ourselves to “find the positive” in every difficult situation. Increasingly, we are now seeing the Blue Sky learners independently adopt the strategies and mindsets involved in “looking for the positive.” Frequently, we hear them use phrases like: “energize the positive,” or “what you focus on, grows,” so it is no surprise that the bathroom graffiti shares similar messaging.

The COVID-19 crisis has tested many of us. Whatever feelings you have felt amidst the anxiety, sadness, and loss, are valid. I have felt a wide range of intense emotions, fluctuating between feelings of loneliness, worry, gratitude, guilt, awe, etc. I know that I am amongst some of the most fortunate people in the world right now, while so many are without connection, safety, health and security.

The pandemic has highlighted some of the best and the worst of humanity. Of the best, for me, has been our Blue Sky community. Particularly, the incredible leadership we have seen from our co-founders. Not only did Karen and Shauna quickly turn Blue Sky into an online school overnight, they did so with a continued focus on the values of connection and celebration. They have helped us, learners and coaches alike, use this unsettling time to find, celebrate, and recognize the good in our local and global communities. This week, Karen and Shauna challenged us all with a “mission” to find and thank a helper. In our morning meetings, they shared countless examples of helpers that are offering various kinds of support for people in need of food, shelter, joy, reassurance, and kindness. This week, learners have been sending letters of thanks to healthcare workers, leaving messages of hope on the sidewalks, making art for thoughtful neighbours, and cleaning the lawns of frontline workers, amongst other acts of gratitude. There are countless people to thank, and I know many of us have been struck by the generosity and selflessness of many different people across the country and world.

For my “mission,” as you may have gathered, I want to express my immense gratitude to Karen and Shauna for their outstanding leadership as we navigate these unnerving times. They have helped many of us feel connected and grounded. Their unwavering support for the coaches and learners and their continued focus on finding the positive is a testament to them as individuals and the love and thought they put into the Blue Sky community.

Karen and Shauna, with deepest sincerity and gratitude, thank you.

Mission complete.


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