That’s my neighbour Tobias Beale in the photo. He’s a long-time musician and music teacher who has shared his enthusiasm for music with students in Halifax for decades. He also brought regular live music gigs back to St. Margaret’s Bay, where we both live, by purchasing an old church hall and holding concerts there, featuring an amazing array of musicians, from community bands to people who regularly play much, much larger venues.
And now he’s about to retire.
I love this picture. Riding off into the sunset and all that.
A few months ago, Ken Partridge, the editor of Our Children magazine, asked me to write a story about long-time teachers retiring at the end of the year. When you’ve spent years around kids all day long, how do you prepare for that to end? It seemed like an interesting question and I jumped on the assignment.
This is one of those stories that really depends on the people you find to interview, and I lucked out. I was still looking for sources back in late March, when I went to Toronto for a weekend to speak at the annual jack.org summit. On the flight home, I heard a woman in the row behind me talking about how she was retiring at the end of the year, and I turned around and introduced myself. Her name was Theresa George, and she started her career teaching in the Poplar River First Nation, then came back to Nova Scotia, where she has taught at the same school for 31 years. We had a fantastic chat (later, on the phone — not on the plane). I also talked to a school counsellor who says the big problems in schools are the big problems in society: income inequality, unequal access to services, and so on. And I got some interesting perspective from a teacher who absolutely loved her job, retired a year ago, but now says she would never, ever go back.
I liked the way this story turned out. You can read it here.
By the way, Tobias is a very interesting character; I made a radio documentary/podcast about him for CBC that you can listen to here. It follows him as he works with students in the school system and sets up his own jazz band at Paul’s Hall for those who want to play more. One of the graduates of the program is Leith Fleming-Smith, who plays with Matt Mays and was Music Nova Scotia’s Musician of the Year in 2018.