What a happy, lucky life I lead…

Hello blog – long time, no… well, you know. There has been a lot going on. Where to begin? My mind feels like a table at a jumble sale; random items, some valuable, shiny and unused mixed in with some that are cheap, cheesy and tattered. Let me catch you up on my doings since my most recent post on May 18.  I have been snapping pics to keep track of events so I’ll just download ’em all here with commentary. As I was scanning these images, I realize I am a very privileged individual, with a very happy life. I just wanted to say that I try never to take that for granted.

WESLEY, Eleasha Evangeline (Little One) “Ju Thin na”Eleasha Evangeline Wesley, (Little One) “Ju Thin na”, an Exshaw School student was killed in a car accident in early May. I was able to attend the funeral Services at Morley School Gymnasium, on Thursday, May 10. This was a devastating loss for the family and for the school community. Time was taken to recognize this young girl – at 10 years old, such a treasure, lost and taken too soon. Grief will turn to healing; we will continue to support each other as we did that day.  That evening I attended the Lawrence Grassi Middle School (LGMS) Grade 7  performance of The Loxleys and the War of 1812.  Alexander Finbow’s post explains the wonderful creative process of the production; history came alive for these kids.

May 11, a Friday, was a full-on Professional Development for the teachers in the LGMS. The Alberta School Improvement Initiative (AISI) project findings were shared across the division. It was fascinating to hear the teachers discuss what had worked for them and what hadn’t as they looked to improve their practice.

R-L: Joan Rose, MC & teacher; Pat Ritchie, Nancy Crosley, Jim Birnie – the three principals who served at ERS in the last 20 years

This was taken at École Elizabeth Rummel School  at the 20th anniversary celebration of the school’s opening. These staff members have all had a long-term association with the school. Both my boys attended ERS. It was an emotional day, as the school board had hired Mr. Christopher MacPhee as our new district superintendent, and Mr. Brian Callaghan’s last day was less than two weeks away.

When I took the picture below; I couldn’t help thinking: “Adieu Brian – bienvenue Chris!”

(L) Brian Callaghan, outgoing Superintendent after 22 years of honourable service and (R) incoming Superintendent Christopher MacPhee; look at the grins on those fellas!

The board was also making budget decisions during this time in a very lean and uncertain budget year: Alberta Education has already allocated the dollars for the next three years, but the current five-year agreement with the teachers expires August 31st. The hope is the Alberta School Boards’ Association, the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Government of Alberta will be able to reach another multi-year agreement. We’ll just have to wait and see.

So more to celebrate at Exshaw School – have you heard of the Snacketeria Lady? She helps teach the kids about nutrition. Her efforts were recognized by Alberta Milk in the $1,000 Nutrition Innovation Award.

The money goes to support the continuation of the nutrition program. So wonderful when staff goes above and beyond. Such benefit for the kids! She is very popular with the students. On June 15th, at the Grade 8 Farewell (all 16 students are going on to CCHS), she sent a video greeting – such cheering!

CCHS Commencement on May 25 was a very cheerful event. It was Mr. Glenn Nelson’s first one as principal; he seemed pleased to cede the role of MC. Families, teachers and staff looked pleased and proud. As I have said elsewhere, I am a grad ceremony junkie – I really got my fix that night. Congratulations to all.

For the beginning part of June (and indeed, for most of May) my attention was riveted on my “real” job – the one that pays the bills, continues to challenge and reward me – The Banff World Media Festival. We were on site June 9th and the weather looked like this:

June 9th, 2012. View from 3rd Floor Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Conference Centre: Van Horne points the way through the snow.










And then two days later the Bow Falls looked like this:

It began to feel like spring. The event ran its course; it was as busy and successful as ever. School was really winding down with the annual milestones clicking past: Banff grad would be soon BUT before we got there… another meeting.




BUT – quick aside here – on June 19th a by-election was held in Canmore for a new mayor (Ron Casey had successfully sought the MLA vacancy – more on that later) and two council seats vacated by mayoral hopefuls. Trustee Vi Sandford  captured one of those council seats and stepped down from trusteeship. I’d like to give her a serious shout-out. She was a diligent trustee and a passionate advocate of public education – also a dandy hiking partner.

Vi Sandford and I hunker down to escape the wind in Ptarmigan Cirque in Kananaskis Country. Beautiful place, great day.

Many thanks to her for hard work and sincere fellowship. She’s offered to once again host the board’s Christmas pot luck dinner, so it’s not good-bye, merely au revoir. Now on to that meeting…

On June 20, anticipating what has to be tackled in the fall, we asked members of the Community Education Network (CEN) and our school council chairs (or designates) “How can we take informed action that builds our capacity for being vibrant and adaptable?” We considered:

  • Inspiring Hearts and Minds (IHM) and CEN first principles to help us reconnect with the visioning work already done.
  • An overview of our current situation – financial, programming, provincial context, world context, etc.
  • Kicked around some initial ideas about key and realistically achievable steps that will help us build capacity: drilling down into IHM to move towards actions steps, refreshing IHM with new ideas – again, to lead to action steps.
  • Lastly we discussed how we will proceed in the fall.

There will be a lot of important decisions to be made in the coming year; the board has pledged to consult community as our community works through some tough circumstances. We are in this together.

A whole new look for the big guy.

The next day was National Aboriginal Day; someone cleverly dressed up Canmore’s signature public art. It was a day of celebration at Exshaw School but I had to work. However it was solstice (well, almost) and time for midsummer’s bowling.








Sunrise was gorgeous –  I know because there we were there,

Midsummer, 2012

three foolhardy souls, five-pin bowling at the main intersection of downtown Canmore. Why? Because one can.

Wendy pays homage to Patty – the only strike of the day

Chowing down after some tough athletic competition.














I flew off to work, rubbing my bowling blisters and picking strawberry seeds out of my teeth – not really – and then zoomed home to change for the final event of the day –  a gathering to honour departing District Superintendent, Brian Callaghan.


I was so pleased to be there and so pleased to see so many folks come out to participate.

Kim Bater & Annaliisa Bracco-Callaghan in foreground, guests behind.

Brian, there are not enough words to begin to acknowledge all you have done. Thank you.

Helmi & Brian, the night Brian announced his retirement to the Canadian Rockies Public Schools Board.

And thank you to your wife, your partner, Helmi, for sharing you with us.

Just one more meeting before we are done. The Board and our (new) superintendent, Chris MacPhee, met with our new MLA, Ron Casey – former mayor of Canmore. Ron is head of the rural caucus, so he will hear that many districts face the same challenges as CRPS. It was an excellent session. Ron was generous with his time, and his astute questions showed he paid close attention to our presentation. We look forward to working with him.

MLA Casey on his Harley-Davidson in the Canada Day Parade, 2012

We think we may have an inside edge: he and our supe are Harley fans.

And finally: Banff Grad at the Fairmont Banff Springs Conference Centre – such a treat to be a guest where I had so recently been a worker bee! It was a beautiful evening: an amazing meal, moving speeches, and a feeling of belonging. How fantastic it felt to sit and join in the conversation, or just let it ebb and flow around me, and feel “This is my place; I am exactly where I should be.” Alas, I did not take any pictures, but I hold the images in my memory and the feeling in my heart. Blessings to you all.

About Esmé Comfort

My husband Jim and I moved to the Bow Valley in 1980, settling in Canmore in 1983. Both my children were born in Canmore and attended K -12 in Canadian Rockies Public Schools District (CRPS), French Immersion. For the past six years I served as vice-chair of the board. Alberta Government support to the CRPS Inspiring Hearts & Minds initiative created opportunities for provincial, national and international outreach. In the past I held positions on the Canmore Daycare Board, the preschool board, and various school councils/PACs; I served as president of the local chapter of Canadian Parents for French for five years and sat on the provincial board for two. I currently sit on the board of the Canmore Folk Music Festival, work full time at an events management firm and edit, copy-edit and proofread on contract. My husband and I ran a small main street business for 18 years: supply and install floor wall and window coverings.
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One Response to What a happy, lucky life I lead…

  1. Brian Callaghan says:

    The journey continues “into the great wide open under the sky so blue” as Tom Petty would sing!

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