Principal Prototype

Mrs. Jana Macdonald, Principal of Bowness High School in Calgary, is conceiving and prototyping unique programs at her school that “set kids up for success in the future,” ones that teach students “how to be creative and manipulate data, to be mindful about how to build solutions, and problem solve.” She brought in Computer Science, Pre-Engineering, High Performance Athlete Development, and hopes to add Coding and Outdoor Environmental Education soon.

Practical, visionary, dedicated, yes; but Mrs. Macdonald also knows “it’s incredibly hard to be a teenager” in our modern Western culture. “You look at this world they live in, at the demands, it’s tough on them. I want to give them a place to find something they are passionate about, something that really lights them up and gives them a creative outlet, and a sense of self that they struggle to find in those teenage years.”

Balancing external, real-world educational needs with the internal dynamics of modern teens is what, in my opinion, makes Mrs. Macdonald extra-special. She strives to create community at her school; she upholds manners; she wants kids (that includes you, teens) to play outside instead of on their devices. Mrs. Macdonald encourages her teachers to “build relationships with students,” and actively looks for this compassionate quality in expanding her staff.

How refreshing! How encouraging! Can we prototype Mrs. Macdonald?

Read more about Bowness High School and its recent changes here: Bowness High School Re-Imagined © Jennifer Leslie


Super Water Bear!

Photo of water bear by Willow GabrielProbably the most remarkable, indestructible animal on Earth: the water bear (or Tardigrade). My family and I first read about water bears while on holiday in Hawaii in 2013, in a small local magazine. In the past year, this little creature has become better known in the media. If you don’t know about it yet, please read my article:

Super Water Bear!

Remember, boys: You are a miraculous scrap of life in the vast, cold Universe

When my middle-school-aged boys get stressed about grades, friends, their futures, a lost object, being late – issues big and small – I remind them of thisTiger swallowtail © Jennifer Leslie fact. I remind myself of this fact when I’m caught up and stressed out! The very fact of a life, any life – a bee, a bear, the Queen, a baby, my neighbor, the most celebrated movie star (why do we worship those anyway?), an ant, a butterfly, a blade of grass – is an amazing, miraculous entity in this vast, cold Universe. Your life, your existence, your thoughts and views, are no more and no less “important” than any other’s. Any scrap of life in this vast, cold Universe is worthy, is a miracle, is “right.”

Sunrise – A Mindful Exercise

At this time of year, my children and I see the sunrise as we walk to school. We get a ‘lift’ from experiencing the glory of it – a positive start to the busy day – and a reminder of Nature’s power. What has humankind created that can match a simple sunrise?  We take a moment to look at the changing colors with mindfulness . . .

Sunrise with bare trees © Jennifer Leslie

We see Life in better perspective, which is not easy for middle-schoolers, or for busy-busy-busy parents either. Then we head into the day with a lingering feeling of peace. (Thank you, sunrise.)

A Personal Essay, Years in the Making

Baby smile © Jennifer LeslieWhat We (Adults) Can Learn From Them (Children)

This personal essay on the precious qualities naturally inherent in Very Young Children, and how they may influence the rest of us, was years in the making. I have been thinking about, and meditating on, this topic long before I had my own children. It is important to me; I hope it will resonate with you.