From the Teacher's Desk: Chasing Perfection

2012-07-10-From-the-Teachers-Desk-Leonard-Quilty-IMG_9288-150x200By Leonard Quilty

Life is pure adventure and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.

– Maya Angelou

In almost three decades of teaching (and learning from my students), there have been many highlights. As another school year draws to a close, it is giving me cause for reflection on many memorable experiences this year that have reminded me of the joy of being in the teaching profession.

The evening of Friday, June 13, certainly stands out as one of the highlights of not only this year, but also of any year in the span of my teaching career. On that occasion, I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at a gala performance by a group of Kindergarten to grade twelve students. This time the venue was a school community in Sherwood Park, Alberta. This large group of learners are members of a school community under the umbrella of our school, the Centre for Learning@Home.

After we were treated to a delicious evening meal, the concert began with the Kindergarten class staging a beautiful tribute to Canada’s special relationship with the Netherlands. Of course, the Netherlands was liberated from German occupation largely by Canadian soldiers during World War II. As well, the Dutch royal family took refuge in Canada for much of the war.

Adding to the authentic nature of their performance, the Kindergarten boys and girls were adorned in period costumes and wowed the audience with a well – choreographed dance routine. Fittingly as well, the stage was adorned with tulips, signifying the long history of gratitude displayed by the Dutch people. Apparently, every year the Netherlands sends 20,000 tulip bulbs to the city of Ottawa. If you’ve ever attended the Ottawa tulip festival in the spring, you know about the glamour of that special event.

Each class in succession performed various renditions of significant events in Canadian or world history. One of the junior high classes did a reenactment of the invention of the telephone, and subsequently portrayed key stages in the development of this ubiquitous piece of technology. The skit ended rather humorously with a scene of a mom and her three children at a restaurant. With a slight exaggeration of smart phone usage, all four family members were totally distracted by the devices and chose to text each other instead of communicating the “old-fashioned” way – via engaging conversation!

All of the student performances on that evening were stellar. The transition between skits (i.e., rearranging the props and sorting out microphone distribution) was seamless. As well, the brief interlude when a new class would make their way to the stage, was filled by the emcee with entertaining anecdotes of humorous events that happened to him and his classmates throughout the school year.

The famous American football coach, Vince Lombardi, once said: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Being in the audience that night, and witnessing such incredible talent on display, certainly gave credence to Lombardi’s words. The student performances were indeed excellent!

Leonard Quilty is a guidance counsellor with the Centre for Learning@Home in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail at, or visit his website at