The Best Gift Is You

Tim StephensonBlog, Connect Better, Engage Better, Reflect Better


  • This post shares a yearly tradition to write a poem for staff and students on the last day of the school year before winter break as encouragement and to build community.

I thought I would share with you, for this month’s blog, a poem I wrote for my school’s students and teachers. This is something I started doing back in 2005, and it’s a moment I create to help build school community with an encouraging thought or two. I dress up as this character I’ve simply called the Old Grumpy Guy. But in reality, he isn’t that grumpy at all. He’s a school tradition, a recognizable ugly sweater, and a calming perspective on an ever-changing world.

You can’t overlook / What’s in front of your face / It’s the one thing that binds us / Throughout this whole place / It’s the power to be thoughtful / Considerate and kind / Yes we’ll all be alright / If you keep that in mind Click To Tweet

There are a couple of local and/or Canadian references, but I think the message is still the same. I’ll be reading this to all 2000+ students on Friday before the break starts. In these crazy and uncertain times, I just wanted to reflect on what it is, what it’s been, and perhaps what’s to come. I hope it encourages these high school kids, and I hope you find value in it as well. If you do, Tweet at me…sometimes I need encouragement too.

The Best Gift Is You

We may as well start here
Right off the top
There’s been issues we’re facing
That don’t seem to stop

And I don’t want to scare you
Any more than you are
So sit tight and just listen
To this old, fading star.

So first things a list
It’s the right thing to do
Admits there’s a problem
Set them all in a queue.

We’ve got masking and COVID
And vaccines and boosters
Some people want them
And others say “No Sir”

Passport restrictions
Show picture ID
2 meters of distance
Perhaps make it 3

Walls made of plastic
To keep us apart
Hand sanitizer
Clean hands to impart

And please don’t speak moistly
I don’t want your spray
My backyard is flooding
Too much water today

The river’s now flowing
Right out of the sky
And rains they be piling
Up higher than high

The social dilemma
Controls where we shop
I think I’m in charge
But don’t know how to stop

The headlines tell lies
They say all of it’s fake
Don’t know who to trust
Is it really Bill Gates?

And they all keep on
Pushing this infinite game
When I really just want them
To know me by name!

(Sigh) Ok, I hear you…

I hear what you’re saying
The world seems a mess
And I understand why
You’d say that, I guess

Because from your perspective
It’s all that you see
But if you look through the eyes
Of someone like me

You’d see people to greet
That say “how do you do?”
What’s always in style
Is a friendly moment or two

You can’t overlook
What’s in front of your face
It’s the one thing that binds us
Throughout this whole place

It’s the power to be thoughtful
Considerate and kind
Yes we’ll all be alright
If you keep that in mind

One last thing I’ll tell you
‘Fore I go on my way
Perhaps to help Santa as he
Loads up his sleigh

The world’s not all bad
Under the Sun, nothing’s new
We’ve got through things before
But now we’ve got you!

About Tim Stephenson

Tim has been teaching in Langley, British Columbia for over 25 years. He’s a science teacher, particularly astronomy, which is a course he has developed into a full credit senior science course. In his school, he is known as AstroStephenson. Way back at the beginning of his teaching career, he wrote a book, really to himself, that contained his teaching philosophy. It was a project that would define his career. He is a possibility thinker, a dreamer and a doer, an innovator.

From the very beginning, he knew that he wanted to teach by putting students and relationships ahead of content, and putting experiences and emotions ahead of curriculum. The result has been a long career of rich and rewarding experiences for both himself and his students, the pinnacle being in 2018 when he was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Now Tim would like to share with you his thoughts and experiences on teaching with the hope that by reflecting better, you will feel empowered to try new things, teach in new ways and see the possibilities that are there for all of us in the teaching profession.