Transition in Familiarity

Transition in Familiarity

November 22, 2023

After seven fulfilling years as a classroom teacher at the Viewmount Branch, stepping into my new role as Vice Principal, Himel West within a different part of the Bialik family feels like a journey in déjà vu.

One of the most striking aspects of this transition has been the feeling of familiarity that greets me every day. Even though I find myself in new surroundings, I am met with the same warmth, kindness, and a strong sense of community that I cherished at the Viewmount Branch. The Bialik spirit has transcended its physical boundaries and welcomed me with open arms.

Getting to know the students, staff, and families at Himel West has been an absolute delight. The highlight of my day is greeting smiling students at the morning drive-through line, accompanied by an enthusiastic “Good morning, Mrs. Fallis.” In an attempt to help students remember my name, I point out that it sounds like the season: "fall." This occasionally leads to playful variations such as “Ms Falls” or my personal favorite, “Ms Flawless” (to which I naturally nod in agreement).

A cherished reminder of my new relationships with students is my growing collection of student artwork. I really enjoy adorning my office walls with these student masterpieces. Another daily highlight is stepping into classrooms and participating in the students' learning experiences. Whether observing JK students learning a new Letterland character, Grade 1 students acquiring new Hebrew words, or Grade 3 students writing about their favourite food to the lyrics of the viral TikTok song “Corn!”, it is a privilege to witness students engaged in learning and see our incredible educators shine. The smiles on the children's faces, the dedication of the educators, and the support of our families have made my transition smooth and joyful.

A personal goal of mine is to learn the name of every student as this is an important way of building personal connections. Knowing a student's name is a powerful acknowledgment of their individuality and a step toward fostering a sense of belonging and trust. Whenever I encounter a student — whether playing outside, walking in the hallways, or in their classrooms — I greet them by name if I know it. For names I am still learning, I ask for clues, currently maintaining about a 50% track record for remembering the correct name. I hope to have the privilege of knowing each and every one of our students by name by the end of this year.

As I settle into my new role, I want to express how proud I am to be a part of the Bialik community at both branches. This is a school where educational excellence, Jewish values, and a deep sense of community converge to create an environment that fosters not only academic growth but also personal growth. This convergence has never been more apparent than recently, witnessing not only our community but the global Jewish community uniting as one during these challenging times and offering each other unwavering support. Our shared beliefs drive my commitment to serving this community.

I am thankful to each and every one of you — students, families, and staff — for your warm welcome. I am thrilled to be a part of each student's educational journey. As we embark on this new chapter together, I am filled with excitement, optimism, and a profound sense of gratitude.

Stef Fallis
Vice Principal, Himel West