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Teacher calls it a career

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Pat Stewart, a teacher at Queen's Park Elementary School is retiring Friday after 47 years.

 

A teacher with nearly five decades of experience is being given the boot—literally.

Pat Stewart, who teaches Grade 2 at Queen’s Park Elementary School, will wind up her 47-year career Friday.

Stewart picked up a large flower pot shaped like a work boot and placed it gently on a table outside of her classroom.

“It was a farewell gift from the (Parent Advisory Council) PAC,” she said. “They’re giving me the boot.”

The 66-year-old New Zealand native started teaching at age 18 in her native country.

She taught for three and a half years before making an overseas excursion with a girlfriend in 1968.

Their first stop was in Prince George. It was there Stewart met her future husband and they ended up marrying and staying for the next 13 years. In 1981, her husband was transferred to Penticton and she spent two years at Columbia Elementary working as a learning assistant.

She moved to O'Connell Elementary (now KVR Middle School) and taught Grade 2 before moving to Queen’s Park for the 1996-97 school year. She teaches mostly Grade 2’s and sometimes grades 1 and 3.  

It’s not surprise her reason for remaining there until retirement.

“I like that they’re honest and genuine children who are grateful for whatever you can give them,” she said.

Stewart said because she’s had a long teaching career, she’s teaching second generations of children whose parents attended Columbia Elementary.

For her the most rewarding part of the job comes from helping those shy children who walk into class in the first grade with their heads down, afraid to make eye contact with anyone. She learned with the right amounts of encouragement, kidding around and matching them with a similar student, they become independent students and “hard little workers.”

Her goals have remained consistent through her teaching career, striving for fairness and consistency, ensuring classes are fun for everyone and ensuring they understand the concept of boundaries in relation to what types of behaviour are suitable at school.

“They respect that,” said Stewart.

She plans on visiting with her sons in the summer and spending more time in leisure pursuits such as golf, yoga and community volunteering. She’s also relieved about not having to awaken at the crack of 6 a.m. each morning to prepare for the day.

When Stewart reflected on today’s child, she noted because of the advances in technology they’ve become far more aware of environmental issues than those in the past. The Internet has helped them become more globally aware than what would have been possible in previous generations.

“Overall children haven’t really changed,” said Stewart before laughing and adding, “They might be a little more forward.”

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