This week, The Reckoner interviewed Ms. Duffy, who transferred from her position as Vice-Principal at Scarlett Heights Entrepreneurial Academy to become a Vice-Principal at Marc Garneau for the 2018-2019 school year. Ms. Duffy previously taught at Marc Garneau and was the assistant head of the Canadian and World Studies department from 2003 to 2009.
A job in education wasn’t initially in the picture for Ms. Duffy. She had been considering working towards a Master’s degree in history at York University, after which she started a job in genealogy, the study of family lineage. After travelling for some time, she began weekly classroom volunteer sessions and from there, was inspired to attend teacher’s college and pursue a career in education.
In her nineteen years of being involved in education, Ms. Duffy has worked at six institutions, both as a teacher and an administrator. Her favourite part of the job is being able to work closely with students and teachers while being able to share knowledge and opportunities. She says that she sometimes misses teaching in the classroom because of this: “In the classroom I have a very different rapport with students. You can establish your space with students much more easily than you can as an administrator. But I also do feel that I enjoy what I do right now as VP (Vice-Principal) to support students and teachers.”
Although Ms. Duffy spends much of her time working in the office or classroom, some of her most valuable memories actually take place outside of the school. In her opinion, field trips are where some of the most interesting and exciting learning experiences can happen. She enjoys seeing kids relate to different things that capture their attention and witnessing the spark when something inspires them.
Among her own favourite memories from her own schooling experience were the relationships she had with friends. She also remembers many teachers and professors that have had a big influence on her. In fact, it was because of one of her professors that she chose chose to pursue a history degree: “I didn’t start out thinking I was going to do a history degree, but I just became very interested in history because I had great teachers. They inspired me to delve into history and issues around social justice. I would say I’ve had lots of formidable people, especially teachers, in my life.”
Outside of her job, Ms. Duffy has many other interests. Primarily, she adores travelling and has been to almost fifty different countries. She loves the Egyptian pyramids and the floating markets in Vietnam, but she says she “couldn’t pick any place and say that it’s the best in the world. There are so many places in the world that have great cultural experiences, history, and stories to tell. All places are amazing for different reasons.” Ms. Duffy is definitely not finished travelling yet, adding that she is eyeing Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Wall of China as her next destinations.
Ms. Duffy brings the countries she visits home with her through her food—she enjoys cooking and trying foods from around the world, with spicy foods being her favourite.
Along with travelling, Ms. Duffy likes to spend time outdoors and stay active, especially by going canoeing, doing hiking trips in the summer and fall, and doing karate. She is also an avid reader and her favourite book is “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry.
If that isn’t enough inspiration, Ms. Duffy concluded her interview by sharing some valuable advice with Garneau students: “Believe in yourself and follow your own destiny – not all paths are straight – I really believe that when one door closes, another door opens. You don’t know what’s behind that other door and it could actually be something transformative. It could be connections you’re making that could change your life that you have no idea of at the time. I love Gandhi’s quote, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’, because I really do think that everyone can make a difference.”