From the Teacher’s Desk

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No ordinary moments

This new school year has started out as a different experience for me. Around mid-August I began my new assignment as guidance counselor at our school.

This year I’ll be involved in the intricacies of that work and will not, for just the second time in my career, be teaching any classes. (I spent one year as a vice-principal and curriculum specialist at the board office.)

As with many things in life, there’s a sense of duality relative to my role change as an educator. For sure I will miss the daily interaction with students, in terms of engaging together in the pursuit of knowledge.

As a teacher, it’s always been a source of enjoyment for me to see the look of understanding (imagine a light bulb becoming illuminated over someone’s head!) when a student ‘gets it’ – he or she has found the answer to the question being posed or has fully understood the point of discussion being raised.

However, my engagement with students now takes on a different focus. As a guidance counselor, I’m privileged to be able to expand my center of influence.

At this time of year especially, my work encompasses guiding high school students and their parents on course selection to ensure their choices match up with their post-secondary aspirations. Beyond that duty, I also find myself fielding questions pertaining to student workload, course changes and credit conversions for students coming from outside the province, or even outside the country.

I’m now able to see a side of the schooling process, of which previously I only had vague knowledge.

Over the long Labour Day weekend, I took some time to go on an extended bike ride along the Sheep River here in Okotoks. While enjoying the brisk pace of the ride along the riverbank, and through the adjacent forest, I pondered my new position at the school.

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know; the only ones among you who will be truly happy will be those who have sought and found how to serve. – Albert Schweitzer

As I rounded a corner on the trail, I slowed my speed so as to savor the glimmer of the setting sun as it reflected off the calm water of the river. That image immediately reminded me of the positive and, hopefully, calming effect I can have on the students I counsel.

Whether it’s a conversation over a phone call or across a boardroom table, my desire is twofold. First of all, I want to give them the most accurate information I can. Secondly, I want them to leave our discussion with a feeling of confidence as they move forward.

Thinking of the early experiences in my new role, I’m reminded of something I recently read in a book by Dan Millman called ‘Way of the Peaceful Warrior’.

In this excellent book, which is part autobiographical and part fiction, the author reflected on the inherent value to be found in each day when he wrote: “There are no ordinary moments.”

As a school guidance counselor, or a classroom teacher or a mechanic – or you name the profession, there are truly no ordinary moments. By giving of ourselves, and being fully engaged in the important work we do, we can aspire to make every moment extraordinary.

Leonard Quilty is a Teacher with the Center for Learning@Home in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail: ‘’, or visit his website: ‘

Organizations: Center for Learning

Geographic location: Okotoks, Sheep River, Alberta

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