Part of a three-piece segment, the Reckoner sat down with the three teachers retiring this school year at MGCI. The two teachers apart from Mr. Melville are Mrs. White and Ms. Lawford, both from the English department.
Since Mr. Melville came to Garneau 28 years ago, he has taught Grade 9 to 13 math as well as several social sciences including civics, history, and economics.
When asked why he wanted to be a teacher, he said, “I don’t know why, it’s just that I’ve always wanted to do it since high school.”
What he loves most about his job are the students. “Every day when you walk into school, you never know what’s going to happen with anybody. You take 28 students put them together and I don’t know what happened before class, I don’t know what’s going on in their lives. So you never really know what’s going to happen and you’re kind of living on the edge every single day.” He does find it challenging to figure out “if students actually know what the heck is going on with the course” and ensure students understand his class.
Throughout his teaching career, Mr. Melville feels that the government has negatively impacted the education system. “I’ve taught under three different governments, the NDP, the Liberals, and the Conservatives, and their ideas of what education should be are all different. One of the things I’ve noticed
is that when I first started, there were certain student programs that they put in place or new ways of teaching that they’ve put in place in 1989, 1990 and then I’d sit throughout the years in meetings, and I hear, ‘Oh there’s a new way of teaching!’ And I go, ‘Oh my god, that’s what they were calling new in 1989, they’re just calling it something different now.’ And it’s just, you guys [the government] are crazy.”
Mr. Melville is rather neutral about his retirement, and cannot pinpoint it to a particular emotion—either happy or sad. However, he said, “I’m having a great time throwing out notes. Never have to teach this again and out it goes! And when I look at my plans for next year (grins), that excites me.”
He has decided to retire because, “I hit my 85 factor—when your age and years you have worked sum up to 85—and something within me is telling me to go and retire and it’s time to enjoy life.”
And what are his plans? Simple: to travel as much as possible. He has already planned a trip to Europe, a Mexican cruise, and a visit to Florida. After that, he will come back to Canada and “figure out what I’m going to do for the rest of my life”.
One thing he’ll miss is “learning about technology from young people who know things—they understand
the apps and they know the shortcuts on computers and they know how to find TV shows and movies online.” Mr. Melville’s last message to Garneau is, “It’s been fun.”