Principal reflects on 30 years of Children’s Garden School

Marie Bates with children at the Principal’s Club

If you are a Lawrence Park resident, with children or thinking about having children, chances are you have familiarized yourself with school options in the area. My name is Marie Bates and I am proud to count myself, and my school, Children’s Garden School on Eglinton, as part of the North Toronto educational community for 30 years.

As Principal of CGS and mother of three children, I have been dedicated to being an educator for as long as I can remember. In fact, as a child, well before I was a mother or a Principal, I was offering classes for neighbourhood children on my front porch! Being both an educator and a mother has given me my life’s purpose and profession, all rolled into one. Learning about children, supporting children and teaching children have given my days shape and continue to inform everything I have come to know about what it means to be human. An average primary school day is a microcosm of the life challenges we all face, adult or child, and I have always felt that being a teacher, and working directly with children on a day-to-day basis, provides a profound opportunity for learning of all kinds.

I have gleaned many things about how to be an effective teacher and Principal over the years. Building a strong curriculum, providing a comfortable environment and creating meaningful events for families to take part in, all make for a strong school. But I can honestly say, after all these years, that I have come to place the value of a caring staff above all other considerations. By ‘caring’ I don’t just mean being warm and welcoming to children, although this is obviously essential. The idea of caring must go much deeper. Teachers must combine their professional knowledge of child development with empathy and apply what they know and feel to any and every child that walks through their doors. Empathy for children, and by extension their parents, can never be underestimated. When a child and family are truly supported, through whatever challenges they are facing, wonderful things can happen. It’s been said that when children and families are successful, society is successful. I believe this to be absolutely true and keenly feel the responsibility of assembling a staff that can support parents and children in the most positive ways possible.

I have seen so many families through the doors at CGS and witnessed the development of many children. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to contribute to their lives. In my 30th anniversary year at CGS, I want to take this opportunity to thank the community for supporting the school. I also want to thank my exceptional staff for helping me to build a progressive, responsive school. I look forward to many more years in the community.

Marie Bates
Children’s Garden School