Primary teacher Doreen Allan in B.C.’s North Thompson region could hardly believe she has stayed with the same school for 50 years.
This week, the veteran educator celebrated retirement with her colleagues at Raft River Elementary School in Clearwater, B.C., after half a century of teaching.
“Fifty years isn’t a big deal for me,” Allan said Monday to Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC’s Daybreak Kamloops. “I just enjoy teaching. I love teaching. And it’s just what I do.”
Allan — a physical education teacher to Grades 4 and 5 students — joined the school at the age of 20.
“I didn’t really realize what I was getting into. I just knew I wanted to work with kids,” she said. “When I started, I had 37 students in my Grade 4 or 5 class.”
“They just love doing everything. They’re creative. They’re imaginative. They’re positive. It’s just amazing to work with them,” she continued.
In a small community of about 2,000 residents, Allan says over the years she has taught the offspring of her first generation of students.
“I am now teaching the grandchildren of one of my earlier students,” she said. “You really know the students, and of course, I know their parents in any class. I will have taught [the] relatives of over half of them.”
Allan says one of the most significant changes in her school over the past five decades is that report cards are now electronic.
“Report cards used to be two lines and they had to be handwritten so the parents could see what your cursive writing was like,” she said. “And now, of course, everything is typed in technology and on the computer.”
Allan encourages younger teachers to develop their careers in smaller towns like Clearwater.
“So many people just want to stay in a major city, but it is so nice going to a small community and really being involved in the community,” she said. “You really get a sense of the kids when you see them in a different light other than just in the classroom.”
Allan says she will enjoy the extra time for herself after retirement, but she will still miss the kids at school and their friendliness.
“They’re more accepting … because they know all the kids and they accept them for their faults and their disabilities,” she said.