Described on retirement as "the kind of teacher we all wish we could have every year of our school life," Betsy Reilly taught in the schools of London from 1974-2005 with passion and commitment. She is recognized by students, parents and colleagues for two special achievements: her enthusiastic efforts to engage children in the rich world of reading and writing and her ability to make each student in her classroom feel special. Learning was a pleasure and a joy in Ms Reilly's classroom and young children blossomed in her care.
Although born in Missouri, Betsy Reilly completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970 at The University of Western Ontario. She earned a Diploma in Education in 1974 from the London Teachers' College, and over the years completed Additional Qualifications in special education, English as a second language, early childhood education and primary/junior mathematics. In 1996 she received the Master of Education degree from The University of Western Ontario.
A deeply committed professional, Betsy Reilly gave fully of herself in the classroom and in the wider community, contributing to staff development programs, curriculum writing teams, teacher federation activities, and the women's movement in London. She is especially proud of her work in developing the Zlata Study Group which paired university students with grades 6-8 pupils to work on a shared research project. In 2001 she won the London YM-YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in recognition of her contributions to education and training.
For Betsy Reilly, what is important about teaching is "the sense of community and the intimacy of the elementary school where everybody is working for the children." As she said to the children of St. George's Elementary School in her retirement speech, “The books became more exciting and lovely when we read them together, when we lived inside of them for a bit of time each day.”
"A man who has literally given his life to the betterment of our community's young people," is how former students describe Father Thompson. His quiet integrity and his passion for teaching have motivated students since 1965, the year Father Thompson began teaching at London Catholic Central Secondary School. He is currently teaching at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School where he has worked since 1996 because he “just can't quit” and because he believes it is "a real privilege to teach, to be at the centre of an extraordinary life process."
Born in Canada's capital in 1937, Father Thompson holds three undergraduate degrees from the University of Ottawa, a Master of Arts degree from Notre Dame University, and a Certificat Superieur de Pedagogie Religieuse from the University of Strasbourg. He completed his teacher education program at Queen's University. He has taught several subjects, most notably, Latin, religion and, since 1979, history. In 1988 he won the Bishop Reding Award from the Ontario Catholic Principals' Association in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a teacher.
Father Thompson views the school as a community and supports students and colleagues in many ways. For forty years he has directed extra-curricular activities for students, provided wise counsel to them, supported a wide range of student causes, and assisted with charitable work in the schools. Students respect and admire his commitment to young people and appreciate the depth of knowledge and the lively pedagogical style he brings to the classroom.
While his students see him as special, Father Thompson emphasises that teaching is a shared and collegial endeavour. “I don't stand alone. I didn't get here by myself.”
"The world has been given to us and we must learn about it and care about it," observes Valerie Whitney. Over her thirty-six year career in primary school teaching, Mrs. Whitney has lived out that belief. Her focus has been on building community and on ensuring that all her young charges "feel good about themselves and their learning." Her success is reflected in the words of a former student: "Mrs. Whitney is a perfect role model, an understanding teacher, and a great friend.
She listens, understands, teaches, helps, encourages, guides, and has fun."
Mrs. Whitney is known as a creative and caring teacher whose greatest pleasure is "seeing the excitement in her students’ faces." She spends countless hours searching for bargains at garage sales and discount stores because she constructs most of her own teaching materials. Challenging learning centres for mathematics and language, and "story sacks" for children to take home and share with their families are two pedagogical strategies she has made her own. Through her teaching, she strives to "create a stepping stone to the next year" for the youngsters in her classes.
Taking responsibility for the environment has been central to Mrs. Whitney’s teaching over the years. For example, through her initiative and leadership, students at St. Marguerite d’Youville School completed 1,000 environmental action projects as part of the Canada-wide "Learners in Action" program of the SEEDS Foundation. As a result, they won recognition as an "Earth School," becoming the first school to achieve this status in London. Mrs. Whitney also shares her knowledge with colleagues so that they, too, can develop recycling and other environmental programs in their schools. For her, "teaching is not just a profession; it’s a commitment."
Bob Chatfield taught automotives for thirty-three years, all but one of them at H. B. Beal Secondary School in London, a school from which he, himself graduated, winning the Senior Automotive Student Award in 1946. While working at Trade London Motor Products, a chance opportunity to teach night school at Beal came up and a teacher was born. Mr. Chatfield discovered that he loved teaching and liked working with young people. He enrolled at the Ontario College of Education, graduated in 1954 and immediately began a full-time teaching career. By 1965, he was head of the Automotive Department at Beal, a position he held until he retired in 1986.
Over the course of his career, he introduced many changes to the automotive program. Thanks to Mr. Chatfield, Beal was probably the first school to offer an automotive parts course for students wishing to take an option other than automotive repair. He revised the senior automotive program so that it was broken down into four specialties and he initiated "contact training," a precursor of today’s co-op programming. Mr. Chatfield’s expertise in teaching was widely recognized and automotive teachers from across south-western Ontario came to Beal for training and instruction at his hands. He also chaired the Local Apprenticeship Council for fifteen years and the London chapter of the Ontario Vocational Educators’ Association for a lengthy period.
As a teacher, Mr. Chatfield is remembered for treating his students as young men. He was known for his "quick smile and encouraging word for each student" and for his willingness to go the extra mile for anyone. At the same time, one student remembered, "Bob modelled a strong work ethic and high moral code of behaviour. He wouldn’t tolerate lazy students and he pushed us to excellence in both our shop work and our personal attitudes."
Shelley Kostecki devoted her career to the primary learning and literacy, to choir and drama but believes her most important task was "to make children believe in themselves." In the words of one of her former students, "Mrs. Kostecki has a way of making everyone feel special and smart."
A graduate of London Teachers’ College, Shelley Kostecki retired from Wortley Road Public School where she spent the majority of her career, teaching primary music and drama.
Her teaching gift is her ability to recognize the unique talents and strengths in each of her students.
"Everyone learns differently," she says, "and each child must learn to respect each others strengths and weaknesses." She believes that when children set their own goals they begin to understand the importance of individual achievement. One of her great joys is to share the moment when a child’s eyes light up in amazement and pride, with the look that says, "I can do it. I can read."
Shelley Kostecki’s passion for reading led her to a tradition of giving each of her outgoing students a book as a farewell gift. She sent each of them away with a reminder of the joy of reading. "She will always be with me," says one former student, "when I’m reading a great book or singing a wonderful song."
Mme. Monique Mailloux retired in 2006 from Lord Roberts School where she taught French immersion to primary students for 22 years. A passionate gardener and environmentalist, she nurtured and inspired her students’ love of learning while she also taught them to care for the Earth and all of its inhabitants.
Monique earned a Masters degree in French Canadian Literature from the University of Western Ontario before embarking on her teaching career. Her teaching philosophy comes from a belief that children need to work in a structured environment but that within that structure there must be "room to explore".
Monique’s classes learned both practical gardening and a deep concern for the earth. Her students throughout the years were involved in the naturalization and greening of the Lord Roberts School and playground, and she introduced her students to the world wide Roots and Shoots program begun by Jane Goodall.
Parents who came to know Mme. Mailloux and the positive influence she has had on their children are full of praise. "Her class activities reflect her commitment both to teaching and the larger social issues." Her students put it another way. "Madame is a very hard teacher but she’s so nice that that’s okay and it’s for our own good."
Described as a special and rare talent, Monique Mailloux ‘praises can be summed up in the words of a parent who said, " Her contribution to the development of our child goes beyond academics to our daughter’s intellectual, emotional and spiritual development."
Bill Bettger retired from South Secondary School after a long and influential career as a music teacher. Bill continues as Director of Music at Colborne Street United Church, with his wife Eva, where he plays the organ at church services and directs the choir. Over the course of his career he was instrumental in inspiring students not only to find joy in music but to aspire to be committed members of their community.
Bill graduated from Western with a B.A. in Honors Music and an Associate of Music from the Western Conservatory. Over the years, Bill taught in a number of schools as music teacher, Department Head and Artistic Program Leader at London’s first school dedicated to the arts, Lester B. Pearson. He also took on school musicals and dramas, children’s programs at his church and continues to serve on the Kiwanis Music Festival and Royal Canadian College of Organists Boards. No matter what the activity the reward for Bill Bettger was the satisfaction of working with his students, seeing them grow and learn, and watching them become confident young adults. A former student whose life and career was influenced by her mentor says, ”We were inspired to do our best and we were rewarded for our dedication and our effort.” A new teacher who turned to Bill for help and support writes, “He made me see how to teach music in a way that was meaningful for my students and so rewarding to me.”
Another of his students describes himself as a better leader and a better person because of Bill Bettger. His words capture his music teacher’s secret, “He saw within us even more than we could have imagined possible. He was usually right.”
Clare Robinson has spent her entire teaching career of over 35 years with the London District Catholic School Board in both elementary and secondary schools, most recently at Catholic Central High School where she is in the Learning Services department, supporting and assisting students with special needs. Clare believes her students “are called to use their unique gifts and abilities to be of service to others and to be concerned stewards of the environment.”
A graduate of London Teachers’ College, Clare earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters Degree from OISE at the University of Toronto, with a focus special education. A former student who met Clare in an ESL class and who spoke no English describes her first meeting “with this wonderful, gentle woman.” “She smiled with such warmth and spoke to us as though we understood.” Clare Robinson encourages her students to believe in themselves and to know that every contribution matters; every kindness counts.
Described as “a teacher who knows how to teach her students by getting to know them and being genuinely interested in their growth as human beings,” Clare Robinson is also a committed member of her community. She was honored by the London Police in 2002 and, in 2006, she was included on the Mayor’s Honors List for her outstanding contribution to safety and crime prevention in the City of London.
Joanne Taylor is a primary teacher in her 30th year of teaching. She has taught Kindergarten through Grade Two with the London District Catholic School Board at St. Roberts and Holy Family Schools. She is also an active and proud member of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association now a member of the Teachers’ Wall of Fame.
Mrs. Taylor is the recipient of the Outstanding Elementary Catholic Teacher Award. The award was presented with these words: “Joanne Taylor is an exemplary and conscientious teacher always striving to do her best for her class, her school and her community; a kind and supportive person who cares for, encourages and motivates others.”
The nomination for the Teachers’ Wall of Fame honour came from a group of parents who believe Mrs. Taylor has “provided our children with a solid spiritual and educational foundation for the many years ahead.” These parents happily placed their trust in Mrs. Taylor’s hands. “These are critical years in a child’s development and Joanne has played a key role in solidifying the type of citizens they will one day grow up to be. This award may be a form of legacy but the true legacy will carry on in the lives of those she taught.”
Joanne Taylor sums up her life’s work in her own words: “It is a privilege to be called to serve and teach the children in our community. They need to be nurtured, cared for, encouraged, supported and loved.”
Debbie Lukas retired from the Thames Valley District School Board in 2008 after 25 years in teaching. Her teaching career began at the Lambton-Kent School in Dresden and ended at Medway High School where she taught English, headed the literacy project at the school and earned the affectionate title of “Mrs. Literacy.” Her own education began in a one-room school house in Northern Ontario where her “love of learning and helping others to learn began.”
A former student nominated Debbie Lukas saying, “She taught me not only about Shakespeare and essay structures but about life. I have never known a teacher who inspired me to learn so much about myself. I admire her courage, her enthusiasm, her support and her optimism.”
Debbie’s motto is “prepare the child for the path not the path for the child.” She believes teaching is a commitment and a mission more than just a career because “our young people are our most valuable asset.” The feeling of appreciation was returned by her students, summed up in a note left on Mrs. Lukas’ desk. It read, “Your class is challenging me to be a better student and I am learning so much. Thank you.”
Taking the praise with great humility, Debbie Lukas responds, “I am the blessed one. I have worked with so many wonderful young people. I have a beautiful sense of accomplishment knowing I have enjoyed 25 years in a challenging and rewarding profession.”
Susan Grieve has never forgotten her Grade 1 teacher, Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith was one of those very special teachers who continue to inspire students long past their time in the classroom, influencing their future career path and the kind of person they become. What Susan couldn’t know back in Grade 1 was that she too would become one of those very special teachers.
Mrs. Grieve graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1979 with a B.A. Honours degree in History and went on to take her B.Ed. at Western’s Faculty of Education the following year. Since then, Mrs. Grieve has spent 30 years as a senior elementary school teacher at a number of schools in the London area, most recently at Southwold Public School in St. Thomas where she teaches Grade 8.
Throughout her long career, Mrs. Grieve has advocated for differentiated instruction; she recognises every single child as a unique individual with their own learning style and learning needs. Mrs. Grieve’s outstanding teaching practices have not gone unnoticed: last year she provided valuable demonstration lessons on differentiated teaching and assessment to her colleagues within the Thames Valley Board. She is currently sitting on a Technology Task Force and is piloting different methods of implementing technology in the classroom to enhance differentiated instruction. Beyond the classroom, Mrs. Grieve extends her passion for teaching to the school sports teams, clubs and musical productions, bringing her own inimitable style to everything she does.
Mrs. Grieve remembers her Grade 1 teacher as her mentor and role model; now it is her turn to be remembered in this light by her own students. A nominator wrote, “It was in my Grade 8 year that I found my voice. I discovered who I was, what I believed in and the path I wished to follow in the future. It became my dream to make a positive difference in the world and it was obvious to me that I was to follow in Susan’s footsteps to accomplish this.”
Elizabeth “Betty” Eady Havers comes from a family of teachers; at the age of 15 she began her first job as a children’s playground supervisor and knew right away that her own life’s work would be with children.
To that end, Mrs. Havers graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a B. A. in 1971 and went on to take her B. Ed. at Western’s Faculty of Education (at that time, London Teachers’ College). Mrs. Havers has taught at the elementary school level in the Thames Valley District School Board for 36 years, most recently at Jack Chambers Public School in London, where she is still an active volunteer.
For Mrs. Havers, every single day of her long career was different and rewarding and nothing gave her more satisfaction than seeing her children progress, each and every one of them in their own unique way. Ex students and colleagues alike speak of Mrs. Havers’ almost magical ability to make every child feel special, worthy and successful. Physical Education is Mrs. Havers’ speciality and over the years she has coached over 30 team champions to victory and touched the lives of thousands of students through her dedication to school intramural programs – cross-country, basketball, track and field, volleyball, skipping and dance, to name a few.
Mrs. Havers herself has never stopped learning. Enthusiastically embracing new technology, teaching strategies and methods, it was Mrs. Havers’ willingness to welcome new ideas that kept her class ever changing and always bustling. With the inevitable changes of a 30 year career span, Mrs. Havers remained current and open to change; she never lost her sense of humour or her connection to her students. Mrs. Havers has been a wonderful role model and mentor to both students and colleagues; as one nominator noted, “no one could set a better example of what it really means to be a teacher.”