Be a Principal With No Regrets

…On losing a student

When I decided to start a blog I never ever thought I would be compelled to write a post about the death of a student.  However, this week six year old Astha who is in grade one at our school died.

It has been a complicated week emotionally.  So many questions, who will go to the funeral, how will the school honor Astha, how will we tell the students and other parents, how will we support her grade 4 sister when she returns, what do we do with her file and student records, how long do we keep her desk in the classroom…. all sorts of things.

Its my nature to go into efficient mode when faced with a traumatic event.  Make decisions, get things done, keep busy, keep out of my head and although I did do that to some degree, as the hours went by I found there was only one thing I really needed to do,

Be there to listen to any staff or students who needed me.

Don’t make decisions now, deal with what is most important now; the feelings, and emotions of those affected.

People have asked me, “What are we going to do for Astha?” and I just keep replying, “I’m not sure yet.” I just feel like we need time to grieve, process and understand the intense loss our school has suffered.

I am most thankful that I knew Astha well.  Last year when she was in kindergarten I got to know her, I saw her most everyday and said “hi” to her.  She was scared and timid at the beginning of kindergarten so her and I went for a few walks around the school.  We would go and visit her sister.  This year in grade 1, i continued to say “hi” to Astha, I would greet her at the door in the mornings when she came to school.  It made me think about my role at school and one of the most important things I do and can do more of:

Get to know every student, be visible, be friendly.

How horrible would it have been if Astha had died and as principal I had never taken the time to say hi to her or get to know her a little bit?

Although Astha has not even been gone a week, and although she was only six years old, she has taught me a powerful lesson…. we are here for each other, the relationship the principal has with staff, students, and families is crucial and critical and needs to be attended to every day.

I will never forget Astha.  For such a little girl, she has left a big mark on our hearts.

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