Spending a quarter-century educating at the same school has a number of benefits according to Barbara Garland.
She has been teaching the children of former students, and her longevity at Mission Central School helps many parents to trust her methods.
The popular Grade 1-2 teacher is retiring this year, ending 25 years at Central, and 31 years teaching.
“I did a lot of moving in my life,” she said. “But after my second son was born, I wanted to start putting down roots. I like the stability of being in the same place. And I feel like I can offer something — that I can be of help to my students.”
The high-energy and dedicated educator has adorned her classroom with a myriad of colourful student artwork, and educational posters, and you sense she could tell you who crafted each piece without searching for a signature.
Her connection to her students is strong, and she has embraced the First Nations culture of the school, which has been folded into a number of things at the school including ceremonies, activities and artwork.
Where many teachers would prefer to teach one grade, Garland enjoys the splits.
“The students you’re teaching may not clearly be Grade 1 or 2 in their ability,” she said.
Having both age groups allows her to implement a number of her own teaching strategies and methodologies to help all her students succeed.
“It’s a continuum of learning.”
Garland is originally from Ontario, and taught for two years immediately after earning her teaching certificate. Shortly after marrying at 21, she stopped working and attended Queen’s University full-time to earn her bachelor’s degree, something that wasn’t required when she first started teaching.
Educating the next generation has woven itself into the fabric of Garland’s identity, satisfying her artistic desire to be creative and contribute to society, which explains why the long hours are taken in stride.
“I do what I personally feel I need to do, to feel like I’ve done my best,” she said.
Not surprisingly, the children are what she will miss the most come September.
“I love this age group. The way their little minds work, their innocence.”
But she will revel not arising early, nor filling out report cards — something she admits to agonizing over each time — and is looking forward to returning to singing, exercising, travelling and cooking.
“It’ll be my new art.”
• All invited to Garland retirement tea June 15
Former students and colleagues of Barbara Garland are invited to her retirement tea on Friday, June 15 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Please confirm your attendance by calling the school at 604-826-1414 by Monday, June 11.