12 more great Fraser Valley teachers

A dozen teachers who left a mark on Fraser Valley residents

There are a variety of paths to being a great teacher. But a common denominator to those who leave a legacy is an ability to meet kids halfway—to understand their challenges and help them find their own way to succeed.

That could mean making your classroom a safe space for kids who are bullied, shelling out for a football when your kids don’t have enough money to buy their own sports equipment, or finding ways to make math and spelling fun for students who hate the subjects.

Recently, we profiled 13 great teachers. Today, we have 12 more teachers who left a legacy—including one of the author’s own instructors.

In the coming weeks, we’ll have an interview with one of the teachers below.

Bob Hagkull - Camp River Elementary School, Chilliwack

Dave writes: “He was a first year teacher and principal of a two-room school…about 55 students. He would read a chapter from a book everyday after lunch hour. I’m sure to calm us down…remember a big one about the St. Roch voyage thru the Northwest Passage. And he would come out and play sports/games at lunch hour and even after school.

“We [and the other farmer kids] didn’t have a lot of money so he bought a nice football and did we ever treasure the times playing with him. He could also smack the softball across the whole playing field and the same with kicking a soccer ball. I was able to reconnect with him several times and thank him for those amazing years! He later became a principal and joined the district staff. I eventually became a high school teacher and first years was a Phys Ed teacher and tried to do the same with my students.

Mr. Dennis - Glen School, Coquitlam

A reader writes: “He saw my potential and love for science and encouraged me.”

Jim Anderson - Clark State Community College

Bietta writes: “My husband is an American, I moved to Springfield, Ohio ,from Burnaby in 2000. He worked at a college so tuition was free. We only had to pay for books.

“I decided to go back to school to get a business degree, one of the required classes was Algebra. ARGH! I failed it miserably in Grade 10 but I had to take it! First day in Mr. Anderson’s class was amazing and I was getting it, it all made sense. He showed us how to use algebra in everyday things. It all clicked! He also recorded his lectures so if you got stuck or missed a class you could sign out that class and watch it. I thrived and loved his class. I passed with a B+, missed getting an A by 2 points but I was thrilled. I wished he had been my teacher in grade 10!

 Mrs. Turner - Peterson Road Elementary School, Langley

Sara writes: “Strict, ‘old school’ teacher who taught my daughter so much in grade 2 and 3. My daughter is now in high school and is being taught a lot of things that Mrs. Turner already taught her! Mrs. Turner never went on field trips but she brought a lot of things to the classroom (for example one class she had whale bones brought in and the kids were amazed at the size of them). She taught handwriting (something that isn’t taught anymore unfortunately), proper English and even manners. Unfortunately she retired before she could teach my son.

Mrs. Bell - Nicomen Island Elementary

David writes: “This small one-room school had one teacher teaching Grades 1 to 4 in one room. I attended for Grades 1 to 3 in 1953 to 1956. Mrs. Bell taught three generations of farm children on Nicomen Island.”

Ray Pomeroy - Prince Charles Secondary School, Creston

Trudy writes: “Through Ray's Drama classes, I was able to travel to Europe with a repertoire theatre group and later work in summer stock theatre. This early experience allowed me to get into a television and education career that lasted a lifetime.

Bill Henderson - Robert Bateman Secondary School, Abbotsford

Katherine writes: “Mr. Henderson officially taught tech (which in the 90s included video editing on VHS, early computer animation, HTML, and CAD) but unofficially he taught us how to be human. He had a policy where all of his students graded themselves. Yes, we got to pick our own grade. But we then would have to justify why we deserved it. He would point out if you were too hard on yourself, or too easy, and though we didn’t know it at the time mimicked what many people experience in the workplace. How to speak about the work you’ve done and argue what you’re worth to your boss.

“He talked about things outside the walls of the school, bringing world events into our lives. He talked about other work that he was doing in tech, breaking the idea that you could only have one career. He added a couch and TV to make the tech room a safe space for everyone, and supported the LGBTQ students challenging anyone who made ‘gay jokes’ which were ubiquitous in the 90s. Bill Henderson was an undercover rebel in jeans, glasses, and a big mug of coffee.”

Mr. Ollie - Queen Mary Elementary School, North Vancouver

Suzyn writes: “I was in Grade 5. For those who couldn't afford the field trips, Mr. Ollie had us over to his home and we were to clean his spotless car. Then he paid for us. We had cookies, milk and treats and were so loved. We couldn’t wait to go, and we sang and danced with him there encouraging us. He and his wife had no children, but they were so loving and joyous and loved us. It is probably my most wonderful memory.

Miss Jean Limbert - Harrison Hot Springs Elementary

Maria writes: “Miss Limbert taught a split class of Grades 1 and 2 in the 1950s. There was no Kindergarten, so she had her hands full with 40 children. (No classroom help either in those days.) I remember half way through the year in Grade 2 she asked Margaret and I to help other classmates. We had fun, as we felt we were helping those who needed a little more assistance. Great memories of that school! Miss Limbert was a great teacher!

Mr. Palfreyman - Bear Creek Elementary School, Surrey 

Patti writes: “My favourite teacher (Mr. Palfreyman) made school interesting. I especially liked spelling baseball. Our class was a 5,6,7 split so that was in 1964-67. He used the word lists at the end of our Speller text. He would assign simpler words as a one-base hit, a little harder was a two-base hit, harder still for a three-base hit and a difficult word for a home run. Maybe I liked this game because I was a good speller or this game made me a good speller....I'm not sure.

“Now here is a really interesting part. I was the dispatcher at Langley School District and was interviewing for new school bus drivers. One of the applicants had the same surname as my favourite teacher. When I interviewed him I managed to find out that my favourite teacher was his dad. I told him that his dad was my favourite teacher. I ended up hiring him as a school bus driver. Some time later he completed his education and became a teacher. His dad would have been so proud!”

Mr. PD Morris - Hope Secondary School 

Linda writes: “Mr. Morris taught science and biology. This was back in the 70s. I’m not sure when he retired. I looked forward to going to class because he made learning about science very interesting and fun. He had a great sense of humour. He was a favourite teacher to many students and is remembered fondly when we reminisce about high school days.”

John Lent - Okanagan University College

Tyler (the editor of this piece) writes: “All I knew when I walked into John’s creative writing in the first year of university was that I liked to write. That class functioned as a “workshop,” with students presenting and reading their work, and then the rest of the class analyzing it and saying what they liked about it and what could make it better.

“That class, the way John guided it firmly but gently, and the delight he clearly took in the arrangement of words in certain ways has stayed with me and can be found within The Current and everything else I’ve written. But it’s usually found just below the surface because what I found in John’s class was not a love of writing or creating, but for refining and editing and for shaping voice.

“The fact that I see the process as something that can be fun and interesting rather than (or sometimes, in addition to) being a pain in the ass: that’s something that John deserves credit for.”

You can find John’s website here. I just found this story about John’s creative writing courses.

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