June 18, 2015
Thank you, students, parents and community members, for entrusting me with your children and the confidence to lead the Oakville Schools this past year. It's been heartwarming to feel welcomed; heartwarming to listen to all the stories that students and parents wanted to share; heartwarming to see even a glimmer of hope in a child's eyes.
I believe in the No Child Left Behind school of thought, no matter how unrealistic it may seem to many of us; I will not rest until I have tried my utmost with the very last kid that needs a mentor, advice, a push, remedial help, supplies, new glasses or shoes, encouragement, a lesson in self-confidence, anti-bullying support, a referral to off-campus social services, a letter of recommendation for college, an appropriate hug, a shoulder to cry on, a ride home, comforting after a lost game, a high five for any accomplishment - no matter how small.
I believe in every child's potential. We are the couriers of hope. In addition to striving for academic excellence, we owe it to the children and their parents to help develop responsible, caring citizens that will contribute in meaningful ways to our increasingly complex society. We model what is right, and if we make a mistake, we own up to it, correct it, and do everything in our power to prevent from making the same mistake again.
I believe in virtues. There is a curriculum called Virtues. It guides students, parents, and teachers through 50 virtues that are as old as mankind. You see, we all talk about the changes in society, the enhanced technology and the impact it has on our lives, etc. Indeed, our society undergoes continuous change. This can make for social unrest, frustration, depression, growing inequality and lost hope. But those 50 virtues never change; they were the same in the Roman Empire, Shakespeare's Elizabethan England, the era of the Civil Rights Movement - and they still are.
A great school is a place where both the mind and the soul are nurtured. It is a place of belonging, hope, and academic excellence. We want our children to want to come to school and learn together. We want a positive, engaging environment that is conducive to every child's relative growth, no matter what their current skills and cognitive levels are.
I am passing the baton on to a competent new principal that cares as much about the children in Oakville as I do. I will take many great memories with me to reflect on later, with a big smile on my face. May your children accomplish great things in their lives. They are capable of paving their way towards successful futures.
Caspar van Haalen