Friday, December 2, 2011

The Value of Paper?

In this world of recycling, reusing, and reducing, I have been reflecting on the value paper.  In particular, the value of a single piece of paper.

What is it's value?  Ask a mom that just received her new baby's birth certificate. Ask a new Canadian that just received their citizenship documents. Ask a teenager as they cash their first job's cheque. Ask a fire survivor as they hold their only remaining family photo.

Paper is only paper until you add value to it. Whether that value is the pleasure associated with a new family member, the safety of coming to a new country, the pride in completing a day's work or the emotions associated with photography.

Paper is just a piece of paper right? Paper is kind of like people.  Thick or thin, tall or short, rough, smooth or colorful, it is the imprint that they have left in our memories that makes them so valuable.

When I spoke at Ashley Oak PS' graduation a couple of years ago I advised the grads that the 8 1/2 x 11, vanilla in color, sheet with just a little writing on it should have immense value.  It means pride in their achievements, survival of grade 8, learning hurdles overcome and many wonderful memories.

Lots of pieces of paper have been in my hands over the years.  I remember receiving the tiny orange paper card of my Bronze Cross from the Life guarding Association of Canada along with it's patch.  It meant that I passed my certification and could get my first real job - life guarding at Kipps Lane pool. 

I remember my driver's license being handed to me by the MOT.  It meant freedom and trust. 

I remember signing my marriage licence & what it means to me, Len and my family. 

Last week, I received another invaluable piece of paper.  One that I really never dreamed of receiving.  It was just an email, but my name was on it.  It was an email that was able to tell everyone that I have worked hard, learned, grew, and completed a process.  The piece of paper helped define me, my role, and my abilities.  A piece of paper that I could celebrate my accomplishments with my colleagues, team and family.

It was my confirmation of being promoted to Principal for the Thames Valley District School Board. 

This is one sheet that will not be recycled, reduced but reused for a long time.  I will pull it out and look at it when I am feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, or stressed.  It will remind me of my work and why I do what I do and the people that have supported me along the way.