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 Mrs. White are Mr. Melville from the social sciences department, and Ms. Lawford from the English department.
Mrs. White has taught English since she came to MGCI in 1999. She started out as a supply teacher in Kingston in 1975, then taught English full-time for four years, before taking a 19 year teaching hiatus from her career to care for her young children. During those years, she became an editor and writer for the Ministry of Education and was so involved in her children’s’ education that she felt as though she was “teaching for free.”
Mrs. White comes from a family of teachers. She said, “I think I was born a teacher. My grandmother was a teacher, my mother was a teacher, her sister was a teacher, who was my role model for teaching because she was an English teacher.” To top it off, Mrs. White’s three sisters are also teachers.
Even with teaching in her blood, she has one challenge—marking. She said, “Although marking teaches me to know the student more than anything else, it’s hard. You walk home with a bag of essays and you know there’s another pile on your desk. Teaching is an active juggling in class, outside of class, there’s the preparatory work, there’s the follow up work, so it’s quite demanding.”
For Mrs. White, being a teacher is an extremely important responsibility. “I know I can affect how somebody can turn out. Not in the biggest of ways, because that’s family and experience with peers, but I can impact the way students will move forward in their lives.”
Throughout her years of teaching, Mrs. White has seen many changes in the education system. One change she is glad to see is the “wiser approach to teaching students of all academic levels”. Now, high school is a place not only for students going to university, but also for students heading into college, the workplace,
or in any other walk of life.
Mrs. White felt that it was time for her to retire: “There comes a point, I think, in every career, where you just realize that you’ve done it. [That] it’s time for me to come to the end of this part of my life.” She is choosing to live in the present, instead of focusing on future plans. “I have consciously chosen not to ‘make plans’. I want to think about this [school] because this is where I am still. But one thing I know I absolutely want to do is get back into doing some art and the same is true with writing. There are all these things I’d really like to enjoy more of and have more time to enjoy.”
Two things she will miss: having a class and colleagues to work with. When speaking about not having a class anymore, she said, “There’s no question that it’ll take me a long time to adjust to that. I also will really miss working with people the way I’ve been able to work with people here.” Her last message to Garneau is: “Continue to be a wonderful collection of people.”