The One Word Challenge

As I have done with each January, I have chosen a word that will shape my actions across 2021. We have also had students and staff take up the challenge in their classes. As a leadership team we decided to share our words with our community and I am thankful that my team has allowed me to share those words here.


Tooshna Gandhi, Elementary Assistant Principal

As we move into 2021, I have replayed, reflected, and reinvented a few of my thoughts for the new year. I look at the year gone by as one in which we witnessed change, complexities, obstacles, and challenges, but also learned a lot, became even more innovative, and celebrated many victories. This made me more mindful of my thoughts, past, present and future, and made me want to pay greater attention, which gave rise to a word that truly resonated with me for 2021 – Focus.

Focus is my word for the year. Focus is what we need for ourselves, and for the impact that we have on our families, friends, colleagues, students, and the world. It’s time to focus, now more than ever, on what we’ve learned, what we’ve celebrated, and what we are grateful for…. and then focus on being present – ready to experience, learn and share! We need to focus on the things that matter, and we need to do this with simplicity and compassion. Things don’t need to be complex – we need to simplify. Simplify by focusing on what matters most. Changes, opportunities, innovation and new beginnings don’t need to be approached aggressively – there must be a focus on compassion. A focus on compassion towards self and others – an emotional response believed to be an essential aspect of well-being. Focus has been defined as the act of paying special attention, and what better year to pay special attention than this very year!


Noha Bishara, Elementary Assistant Principal

In response to the One Word Challenge, my word of choice for 2021 has to be “Opportunities”.

With new beginnings come endless opportunities!  Opportunities to connect, to learn, to try something new, to make a difference, to dream, to impress and to get impressed, to reflect, to change and to succeed! Most importantly we get the opportunity to appreciate and celebrate. If the year we left behind taught us anything, it must be to cherish and celebrate the small moments.

Let’s take the time and the opportunity to celebrate our students’ achievements and who we are as educators. #TheFutureIsOurs


Nathalie Salameh, Elementary Principal

The words we choose to incorporate into our conversations and thoughts represent what is at the forefront of our thinking; our hopes, our dreams, and our worries. This concept gave rise to the idea of adopting a word for the year. A word that would shape my thinking and help pave the way for the journey ahead. 

Movement represents choice, the choice to move away from old habits and practices and make way for a forward trajectory into a path of endless possibilities. To me, and many others, 2020 felt like the year of suspended plans and dreams. By choosing ‘movement’ to represent my year, the sense of overwhelming stagnation was quickly replaced by choice, hope, and possibilities. Albert Einstein once said; “Nothing happens until something moves”. I choose to keep moving, for when I move, I experience new things, meet new people, see things from a different angle, and most importantly find inspiration to create and invent. 

As an educator and mother, I wish nothing more than for our students and my children to continue to experience the joy of play, creation, and risk-taking. Those will only come about if they keep moving, for when we move, there is no time to fear, there is only growth.


Craig Cantlie, Executive Principal of Elementary

My word for 2021 is “Connect”. Last year we connected very differently and that digital connection provided new virtual opportunities. My hope is to capitalize on the new way we have seen people engaging in professional learning in a manner that continues to make on-going learning possible. For our students, the chance to connect our classrooms with global experts, fellow educators and children in schools around the world has never been greater and will be a priority. As well, leveraging the technology platforms and changing pedagogy that was shaped by remote and hybrid learning experiences will continue to further deepen the learning experiences our students engage with.

On the human side of wanting to “connect”, I intend to be purposeful in my day by visiting more classes and experiencing the joy of learning our teachers provide each and every day. Connecting into DAAPA Coffee Mornings, walking the halls and getting out more for recess and lunch with our students and staff. I think in 2020 we all found that to some degree we missed the connection we have with our friends, family and what we love to do because of remote learning, social distancing and masks. This year I intend to do my best to remember what that felt like, and ensure I mindfully connect to all I do. 

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