Education is a huge part of our society’s foundation. Without it, we are absolutely lost, and the modern teacher has to deal with so many different things in a run of a day, many of us wouldn’t even know how to begin to deal with it. Honestly, the people who further their education to bring us ours are the pillars of our society, and some of the most important people that help build the future of our province and our world.
Primary teachers and early educators lay the foundation for understanding reading and writing, they are the people who set us up to start being smart, passionate learners. There is a heavy burden on their shoulders, and they do so much for their students. Do you know what I do to pay my bills? I sell books. Do you know how many teachers I see coming into my store buying the best, the newest and the most loved books for their classrooms on their dime? So. Many. I have teachers who know some of the things that their students are loving right now, but are also wondering about some other hidden gems that will captivate their students so that they become lovers of reading.
Children are hungry for education. They crave knowledge, and it’s the responsibility of those who chose to become teachers to bring that, but it doesn’t rest solely on their shoulders. It rests on our government, and honestly, some of the decisions that our current Liberal government of Nova Scotia have done have shown that they don’t care about having bright, intelligent students flourishing here. And you know what, it’s a real shame, because we here in Nova Scotia have the capacity to have these things. A lot of parents I know see the true value and what these teachers are fighting for because what they’re fighting for is for the best of our children, and ultimately the future of this province.
Right now, they’re having a student lock out, and it’s this bass ackwards sort of thinking that is going to hurt our province. With the teachers choosing to do “Work to Rule” while in the midst of contract negotiations with the government instead of a strike, is a way that they can at least continue some education while fighting for competitive pay and better ways to help their students. The way “Work to Rule” for them works is that they show up 20 minutes before classes begin and leave 20 minutes after they end as well as no volunteer supervision over breaks.
I can absolutely guarantee that it devastates our teachers that they can’t do what they need and want to to help our students be safe because of how “Work to Rule” works, but I’ve seen them try to make arrangements to help with that. They don’t want to see anything happen to their students and y’know what, the government acknowledges that this is “unsafe” for students, thus the lockout, but doesn’t want to acknowledge that this is another part of the struggle that these teachers face “on their dime.” Because time is money, and those earlier mornings and later days, where they make sure their students are safe are probably not counted towards their salaries. The extra curricular activities that the teachers do, not counted towards their salaries. Some of the materials that they go out and buy to help get their kids excited about learning, not counted in their salaries. The trips, the sports, the clubs, the plays, the extra help, so many things that these teachers do do not count in their salaries, and that’s not fair. They’re some of the most important people that we have in our society.
I would like to make a call out too, to some of the most influential teachers that I’ve had in my life because I think it’s important to acknowledge and see how teachers affect our everyday lives. These teachers were people who helped foster my love for so many things that ultimately made me the person I am today. They built on my love of the arts, for reading and writing, for technology, and just kept me falling in love with the things that make me happy. I was so lucky to have so many teachers that saw me as an individual student and wanted to help me thrive and grow, even in a class of 30+ students.
So let me begin with Mrs. Kennedy, because holy crap this lady is a power house of awesome. She was one of my drama teachers in high school, as well as one of the volunteer teachers who took me and a group of 20 high school students to Europe. Hours of fundraising on her own time, time away from her family, and even money from her own pocket went into making sure that this trip was absolutely amazing. I tell you now, it was a dream come true for me to visit London and Paris, and Mrs. Kennedy and the many other volunteer teachers helped make that happen.
First arrived in London in our Hotel before we headed out to Buckingham Palace.
The thing that stands out about Mrs. Kennedy is that as her students, we were her little chicks. She looked out for us, and made sure that we were learning and thriving. What some might not know about drama class is that it isn’t just a “fluff” course, it is designed to help students become more confident, to help explore themselves as individuals as well as an ensemble and time management. When you have a play to put on, there are so many cogs in motion and in order to make it work, everyone has a part to play behind the scenes. You have know to memorize your lines, know your blocking. You have to make sure that if you’re on the props team that you have all of the pieces in order to make it work or if you’re on make up, you need to learn the skills to make stage make up look real. You manage your time between doing what you need to to get the show going as well as all of your other responsibilities outside of the classroom. Drama class was a fun way to get students to learn in a way that didn’t feel like learning and Mrs. Kennedy and every other drama teacher I’ve had made sure we were learning.
All us students in front of The Apollo Victoria Theatre in London’s West End after seeing Wicked!
Next, Mrs. Thompson who was an art teacher at my high school. I took Digital Art and Culture with her and I’m pretty sure this was the highest mark I have ever received in high school. I can absolutely guarantee that this class gave me many of the skills I needed to continue on my education in photography. In this class I learned how to use photoshop for the first time, and it laid the foundation for being one of the better users of the program while in my college courses. (No joke, I was tutoring my fellow classmates in college because I had this early introduction and love for it.) I’m sure it’s what helped my high school friend (and fellow college friend) move into Graphic Design. Mrs. Thompson made sure that the learning was fun, but also that for those of us who were creative and loved digital media, who might want to pursue it in the future, had the skills to do so. She put up with many of my questions about how to navigate photoshop and even ran the short lived photography club that I went to regularly.
Mr. MacKenzie was one of those teachers that knew his students. I currently work with some of his other past students, and they talk about how awesome he was. He was tough, but fair, and genuinely cared about our education. He was my philosophy teacher, and that was a course that I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy, but I absolutely loved. We learned about philosophers, critical thinking, and how philosophy affected our modern world. The way that people thought, like Socrates and Plato, Aristotle and more modern philosophers like Kant and Marx, and how they shaped our modern society. This course was a blast, and also listening to Mr. MacKenzie’s stories made it a wonderful class. I remember when Justin Trudeau came to visit our high school, and Mr. MacKenzie pulled some of us from his first semester classes who he thought would really enjoy being apart of this presentation to sit in. It’s little details like that that show that Mr. MacKenzie genuinely cared about his students, just as many of my other teachers.
English was always one of my favourite classes in high school, and we all know how important language arts are. They help us communicate with each other, as well as absorb information by being able to read, understand and evaluate what is being communicated. I had 3 wonderful English teachers in high school, Mr. McGowan, Ms. Nugent and Mr. MacLeod. They helped foster my love for reading and writing, and helped me find out somethings about myself. Honestly, when getting into high school, I was worried that I was going to struggle with Shakespeare, but honestly, I loved it, and I thrived in it. I’m sure they were the only assigned books that I ever finished in school and each teacher brought their own way to these stories that made me appreciate my visit to the Globe Theatre in London. They are absolute superstars and were laying so many foundations for Nova Scotia’s future.
Another group of students getting their education on at The Globe Theatre
One of the great things about Canadian education is that we have the opportunity to learn a second language, and in a primarily English speaking province, the opportunity to learn French was a wonderful one. There is always one teacher who truly sticks out when I think about my French education and that is Mme. Girouard. She taught at least 4 of my high school courses (Drame 10, Fraçais 11, Français 12 et Droit 12) and I can tell you, I learned so much from her. She’s one of those teachers who comes around once in a lifetime for many (sometimes we get lucky and get multiple, I know I did!) who just makes the biggest impression on you and how you remember your education. She was quirky and so much fun, but you could see that in everything she did, she genuinely cared about teaching.
She didn’t have to work, but she chose to because she loved this job so much, and you could tell. I remember sitting in my Droit 12 class (Law 12) and her talking about the assassination of JFK, and she was standing up on tables and showing us how the projection of the bullet that Lee Harvey Oswald shot traveled. She encouraged us to dig deep into everything that we were learning. When it came to presentations in her class, she encouraged us to go at them fully with creativity and soak up as much information as possible. I remember two projects that I worked on in Droit 12 being about The West Memphis Three and the JonBenét Ramsey case that I still keep up with now as a twenty five year old. I reached past those walls of the classroom and have seen documentaries that I truly enjoyed and read books about them because they were things that interested me, and I learned that because of her.
These are just some of the many, many teachers that have influenced my life, who went above and beyond for me. They made sure that I had a well rounded education, that went above their pay to ensure that me and every other student who walked through their doors felt like they were someone. Without them, I honestly would not be even close to the person that I am. I’m sure I wouldn’t have found the things that I’m passionate about as quickly as I did, or at all. They saw the potential in me and chose to water it, let it grow and flourish. Now I think it’s time that the government does something for them. I want to see them flourish and grow and continue to make our students some of the brightest in the world.
Our teachers are so important, they shape our children into the adults that they will become just as much as a parent does. If we’re not taking care of our teachers then we’re not taking care of our kids, and if we’re not taking care of our kids we’re not taking care of our future. The students in this province understand the importance of our teachers, they’re showing that in their protests, in their walk outs that they value and KNOW how much our teachers do for us. If it wasn’t for teachers, do you think our Liberal Government here in Nova Scotia would be where they are today? I didn’t think so, so let’s do something for our teachers please. Let’s take care of them, because they take care of us.