You often don’t know what you have until it is gone. I didn’t appreciate most of the teachers I had until long after they left my life, but I now find myself reflecting on the differences they made.
One such teacher was Mitch Stringer, an instructor at the Western Academy of Photography, who helped instil a clinical, technical knowledge of photography that I didn’t believe was important until I began working in the field. I still run into him every so often and reminisce on the difference he made for me.
In this final feature instalment for the 2015 Black Press/Staples Great Teachers series, we asked members of the community to reflect on some of their favourite teachers and the effect they had on their lives.
Stew Young, City of Langford mayor – “I was more into sports, and (Belmont teachers Jim Gauly and Muzz Bryant) were great in keeping us involved in sports and were great role models… They were as excited about us playing as they were to coach, and even after I became the mayor, they were always there to help support. Even in retirement, they gave me the support I needed to get the facilities for schools by writing letters … Those are two guys that really got involved in the community.”
Tania Miller, music director, Victoria Symphony Orchestra – “One of the teachers who made the most impact on me was my piano teacher, Thelma Gillis. She drove 50 kilometres to our small town twice a week to inspire lots of kids with music. There was a point where I was getting more and more serious about being a professional musician, and needed more time with her in order to study piano as well as theory, harmony and history. My parents gave me the responsibility to pay for my own lessons, and in order to do that, I taught piano myself in order to make enough money.
“As my lessons became more frequent, Mrs. Gillis told me that she wasn’t going to charge me for most of the lessons, and she volunteered many hours to teach me or to mark my many practice exams. She was patient, kind, gentle and passionate about music and made a lasting impact on me and many people, as she inspired us all to love and appreciate music.”
Cindy Lister, co-founder ALS Cycle of Hope, teacher in Saanich School District – “My Master’s professor, Dr. Michael Ling, was a saint! He was so amazingly wise and knowledgeable that he made us all feel incredibly valued and worthy of his “saintness.” (He) was able to skillfully acknowledge and value each student’s contribution and had a strong, yet calm presence. He was passionate about the content and genuine in its delivery … There was room and time to reflect, learn and breathe. Ultimately, he would respect everyone’s uniqueness, perspective of their truth … It’s incredible how long-lasting his impact was on my life.”
Kathy Kay, executive director, Victoria Film Festival – “Mr. Robinson, to a 10-year-old, he was like dad with no hugging. Exacting, focused and kind. Math, which was not my strongest suit, saddled me with a daily struggle, yet he always had time to encourage and explain. I was in a school that was breaking new ground and experimenting with teaching styles and even the new math textbook didn’t come with a binding.
“Mr. Robinson could teach old school or new school and somehow the duality made it all clearer. Most of my schoolmates thought him too tough, but he set a standard of expectation and I think it stays with me to this day. (He taught me) you should decide what you want to be part of your life, whether it’s work or play, and give it your all.”
Weekend deadline to nominate Great Teachers
We invite readers to nominate the awesome grade school educators who are still actively teaching at the elementary, middle school or high school level. Nomination is easy. Simply click on this link to find the instructions . The deadline is May 31, and for doing so you’ll be entered to win a Thrifty Foods gift card.