An Open Letter to Chris Spence

An Open Letter to Chris Spence

You Are My Role Model

Like many other staff and students I mourn the loss of our former Director Chris Spence. I am a teacher because of him and he will always be a role model to me.

A role model is defined in the dictionary as a person who inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves. In this regard you have no equals. The lives that you touched, the work that you did and those that you inspired to greatness in the Jane Finch Community, the Lawrence Heights Community and beyond are truly legendary.

The ground breaking Boys to Men mentoring Program, the films No J, Teammates and Skin Games are but a few examples of the trailblazer you are.

Chris Spence

You will always be remembered as the best teacher who chose to work in priority communities and effortlessly scored touchdowns in the classroom.

You will always be remembered as the best Principal leading the Lawrence Heights community to national recognition on the cover of Reader’s Digest.

You will always be remembered as the best Director who fought for the undeserved, the disadvantaged and the marginalized. The Achievement Gap Action Plan, the Vision of Hope, the Elementary Academies are just a few examples of your legacy.

Never have I seen the anticipation of an educators visit the way yours were… only rock stars and pro athletes get that treatment. And you never disappointed both students and staff were truly grateful of your visits, and the ones in which you played basketball (Hoops for Hope) and spoke to us about poverty at halftime and the role we all play in giving back to our community was truly inspirational.

You took the time to speak to every student and staff who approached you with high fives and your wide smile. The image I have stuck in my head is you surrounded by our students being ushered to your car and you stopping to speak to and compliment our caretaker. I have to tell you. . . you made his day.

You modeled a passion for your work. Your energy and passion was contagious. You modeled social responsibility with the TDSB’s ground breaking social justice action plan. Every time I heard you speak you ALWAYS spoke passionately about social justice. You challenged us to look in the mirror.

— Who tends to be privileged?

— Who tends to be marginalized?

How can we take action in the classroom /system to interrupt these cycles of oppression?

You modeled positive relationships with all people. Heck even our union leaders spoke highly of you! Someone who listens, someone who cares they said.

Even during your darkest hour, in my eyes you stood tall. It truly was an example of grace under Etc. The letter of apology you wrote to the TDSB community was a great example of a classy heartfelt apology.

My only question is will you approach your recent setback as an opportunity? Will we see you handling life’s disappointments with the same grace and dignity?

A role model is someone we admire and someone we aspire to be like. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and through their ability to make us realize our own personal growth.

You are my role model!

I tech because of you…believe!

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