R Steve introduced John Porritt. Some thought I should let John tell his story??
R Steve has known John about 20 years. John graduated in 1976 from Carleton in Geology and worked in mining industry for a few years. He has a Masters in Education as well from Lawrence College in New York State.
Late last summer John had a mid life crises and decided he wanted to teach and make a difference. John suggests that I pushed him out with suggestions of retirement and slowing down. So John says he wanted to prove he wasn't ready.
Truth can be illusive depending on the perspective.
John looked at teaching in 3 northern communities. One in northern Quebec where he worked in mining as a young man but felt he wanted a new area. He looked at a school in far north but no road access and his family said no to that. The third and where he is is Red Earth Creek in northern Alberta, west of Fort MacMurray.
He is the only high school teacher with about 40 kids. He teaches grades 7 to 12. Students about 60% Cree, 30% metis and rest some whites and Philopines. The Cree tend to be very shy and quiet. The metis kids are sharp. John teaches math, sciences such as chemistry and physics and physical education. John modifies the curriculum to suit the kids and circumstances. He ties subjects together. As an example this spring they had lots of wild fires in area, some people left due to smoke and one road out was bad at times. He talked about the smoke particulate in the air and impacts on body, also effects of wind etc.
He has three levels to teach for each high school grade. He is concerned that many kids will not be ready for big city when they go to college or university, a culture shock.
John would ski to school each day. Weather great, cold but little wind. He was told kids consider him a Legend because he skis to school each day.
John has had issues with Union, they don't want to include him in benefits due to his age. He is fighting this on basis of equal pay for equal work.
There appears no shortage of elementary teachers, mostly women from Newfoundland and John finds it hard to understand them.
John's wife and some family have been able to visit John up north. He goes back in two weeks for the new year.
They graduated 6 kids this year, the first in three years.
When John returned home, he and Lillian his wife took supply ferry along Labrador Coast for week to see the one community he did not go to teach in. They met a nurse who spent her whole career in the north and a Belleville women on a book tour promoting a book she wrote on the Spanish influenza that killed so many almost a hundred years ago.
John has done volunteer work in Haiti, building schools. He says similar problems, you can build the schools but getting teachers is hard, whether in Haiti or the north.
President Daniel thanked John.