The Courage to Lead


This summer, a terrible ecological tragedy struck our school community when a tanker carrying jet fuel spilled it’s load into the Slocan River.

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An abandoned tanker carrying jet fuel for forestry helicopters battling summer blazes lays on its side leaking contaminants into Slocan Valley’s Lemon Creek. Photo credit: Kevin Kinsella

Since July 26, our valley has been in tumult, dealing with the aftermath of this event.  One residents account of the catastrophe can be read in the Tyee here.

I have watched as our community has progressed through the grief cycle, from anger and disbelief to where they are at now, seeking solutions to their problems.

Our school hosted a parent event last night, to share information about the children and their families which may help us better serve them when school starts up again. At that time, we were able to identify several effects which may show up, and steps we can take to support the kids.  It will be a long, slow process, and we will need to be vigilant in our watch for the signs.  As one of our parents mentioned, kids often don’t have the language to describe what’s happening to them, or even recognize what’s happening isn’t normal.  It may just show up as anxiety, which they can’t attribute to anything.

It’s been a very stressful summer in the valley, with lots of strong emotions and opinions. It takes courage to wade into it all, chart a direction which focuses on the kids, and lead in challenging times.  There’s no guidebook for this one.

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About Ron Sherman

I am the principal of Salmo Elementary/Secondary School, a small rural K-12 school in the Kootenay Lake School District. Happy to be part of the Grand Conversation, moving learning forward and joining with great people every day. Runner, triathlete, skier, blogger, loving husband and father of 2 great boys
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