May 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of my graduation from the Nova Scotia Teachers’ College.  After College, I applied for jobs anywhere, but Nova Scotia. It was time to spread my wings and soar and live the life I wanted. After all, I was going to be the grand old age of 21 in September of that year.

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With a red face and long nose, I confess that I applied for jobs for which I was woefully unqualified such as a resource teacher in Labrador and a resource teacher in Toronto. I had only taken one relevant course and I had zero years of experience.

Most provinces required a degree for teacher certification meaning a 3-year NSTC diploma was unacceptable. However, while in college, I babysat for a Christian Reformed Pastor’s family on Bible Study nights where I stumbled upon on a church publication called “The Calvinist Contact,” a gold mine which contained pages and pages of ads for teachers in Ontario.

Because My Fiancé Lives in Havelock

The schools belonged to an organization known as the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) which considered the whole person, not academics alone. Would they accept my 1978 Nova Scotia Teachers’ College Three-Year Diploma? I copied down the ads and then took my list to the library to find out how far each place was from Havelock, Ontario, where my boyfriend, Glenn, lived.

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I should have paid more attention to the map’s scale because one-inch on a Nova Scotia map is not the same as one-inch on an Ontario map. I fired off résumés to several communities from Trenton to the east to Bracebridge to the north and to St. Thomas to the west.

Interview Horrors

My first interview was at “Ebenezer Christian School” in St. Thomas, Ontario which turned out to be four hours from Havelock. Five minutes into the interview I realized I was unqualified, not because of my diploma, but because the school was affiliated with a conservative branch of the Christian Reformed Church. Here are just a few of the questions which left me speechless:

  1. Are you an adherent or member in good standing in the Christian Reformed Church?
    Because my fiancé lives in Havelock, Ontario.
  2. What is your Christian world view?
    Because my fiancé lives in Havelock, Ontario.
  3. How would you include your Christian world view in each subject area?
    Because my fiancé lives in Havelock, Ontario.
  4. What is your understanding of the philosophical differences between Christian a secular education?
    Because my fiancé lives in Havelock, Ontario.
  5. What are 8 books, secular and Christian, you have read in the last year?
    Because my fiancé lives in Havelock, Ontario.

Clueless describes how much I knew about Martin Luther, John Calvin, the Canons of Dordt and the Heidelberg Catechism.

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Not surprisingly, the school hired a tall, blonde Dutch girl named Hannah who knew the correct answers to the questions. And that was a good thing because it was a 4-5 hour drive from Havelock. Instead, I accepted a job at the brand new Muskoka Christian School in Bracebridge, Ontario, 3 hours from Havelock.

Muskoka Christian School was established in 1978 by a group of concerned parents who were convinced that the Christian lifestyle is best learned in an environment where teaching and learning are based on the Word of God. It opened in a private home in Bracebridge, with 23 students divided into two classrooms – grade 1 to 4 and grades 5-8. 

Where Did the Time Go?

In some ways, 1978 seems like an ice age ago, while in other ways it only seems like yesterday. I treasure the photo album the Principal/Junior teacher, Arie VanderStoel (d. 2017) prepared for me at the end of the school year. It contained beautiful pictures of each child I taught and handwritten notes from the junior students. As well, I have a scrapbook filled with many sentimental notes from my first students, photographs, and newspaper articles.

Somehow, 1978 has morphed into 2018. Will I or won’t I attend my NSTC reunion is in August of this year? The events planned sound interesting and I am positive I would enjoy walking around Truro awash in memories of people, places, sounds and  smells.  I wonder if Valerie Saunders, Margaret Sellars, Evelyn MacPherson, Evelyn Hiltz, Alice Whitman, Mary Ellen Hebb , Marnie Churchill, Eileen Bent and Jennie Ouellette will be there?  Will I know anybody? Will anybody remember me? Do I look forty years older? Did everyone gain weight? Ah, who cares? I would love to hear each person’s story and I would like to share mine.

That’s it. I am going to spend a few days in Truro, NS, reliving the past.

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