Kenny is the hall monitor on the third floor of MGCI.

Photo: Sophia Liu

Q: Since this is The Reckoner’s first staff feature, could you please give an overview of what your job is at MGCI?

A: Sure. My job is to be in the hallways in between periods to make sure they are cleared; when the bell goes, make sure everybody is in their class; and during the period, make sure that nobody is roaming around the corridors unless they have a hall pass. If they don’t have a hall pass, I will send them back to their class or I will take them there. Other than that, it’s basically to make sure that the hallways are secure and students are where they should be. Also, students are not supposed to sit in the stairwells during the period so I ask them politely to go to either the library or the cafeteria, where they’re supposed to be during their spare. If they have a spare, they shouldn’t be on the floors anyways and they also shouldn’t be at their lockers five minutes before or after the bell. I give them a wee bit of grace because sometimes it takes them longer to do what they got to do but I don’t want to push it. I do a complete circle of the floor and if they’re still there when I come back, I will then politely ask them to take off.

Q: How long have you been at MGCI?

A: This is my second full year. I came here from Humberside where I was for a year and half and before that I had been at Victoria Park Collegiate Institute for five years.

Q: Where does your accent come from?

A: I’m from Scotland.

Q: Can you tell us something about your rings? 

A: This one here is a shilling. It doesn’t exist anymore, they stopped making them. I joined the Navy in 1966 and back in the days of the sailing ships, when you volunteered to join the Navy, you got a shilling a month. This [shilling] is mine so it’s just a symbolic thing. This is a gold solvent. I’ve always wanted one so I got one and made it into a ring. The other one here is an Australian opal which I got when I was in Australia. This last one is a blood stone and it belonged to my grandfather.

From right to left: shilling, gold solvent, Australian opal, wedding ring, and blood stone. Photo: Sophia Liu

Q: What did you do before you became a hall monitor?

A: Well, before, I was with the Court of Commissioners where I was a security reception at the CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) for 13 years. Prior to that, before I came to Canada, I worked in a hospital where I assisted in the Theater [operating room] and was also an ambulance driver. Before that, I was security at the Solicitor General of Scotland where I was oversaw the cars coming in and did security checks because there were a lot of sensitive documents there. Before that I was nine years in the Royal Navy where my first job after training was on a aircraft carrier. I was in weapons supply where we got all of the ammunition, bombs, etc. ready for aircraft during practice runs. They weren’t live bombs, just practice ones. While I was on the HMS Eagle, I was sent to the Gulf of Aden in the Middle East during the troop withdrawals from Saudi Arabia. I was assigned to a shore patrol unit. While I was on that unit, I was wounded. I was shot in the leg. It was actually a piece of shrapnel but it was still being shot. That was the bad part, but the good part was I had been all around the world before I was twenty! I’d visited Cape Town, South Africa; Mumbasa, Kenya; Singapore; Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Japan.

Q: That’s amazing! If there was one place you could go back to, where would you go?

A: I would love to go back to Cape Town. Cape Town is a beautiful, beautiful city. Unfortunately when I was there, there was apartheid. We [Navy] had to be really aware of where we traveled and look after ourselves because they [South Africa] were so stringent about how the whites and the blacks shouldn’t mingle. I was very upset because I couldn’t associate with my best friend, Leo, who was from Jamaica, while we were ashore. While we were on the ship, we were great mates, but because the laws of South Africa, we couldn’t associate with each other ashore. Another place I would like to go back to and am going back to is Hawaii! I’m going to go on a cruise to Hawaii during March Break. Any other place would be Angel’s Falls in Venezuela. It’s a spectacular place. It’s actually one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I think I’ve been to all the places I’ve wanted to. Places I wanted to go when I was young and looked at the maps and though, “Oh I’d loved to go there, or to go there”. And I went to some of these places. So I really fulfilled a wish list of mine. I have one more wish left and that’s, if I can do it, to go to Antartica. Then I will have been to all seven continents.

Q: It seems like you’ve been all over the world and seen so much. How do you think world has changed?

A: Fortunately, apartheid has ended so I’m really happy about that, but the world in general hasn’t really changed. There’s still conflict and there’s still people not getting along together. It’s basically the same. A hot spot I was in while I was in the Navy was Northern Ireland during the IRA conflict in 1969. Those were harrowing times to be there. That has calmed down now to what it was when I was there, but it took almost 40 years for a sort of a ceasefire, calmness to come back to Northern Ireland. So I would say the world hasn’t changed much for me in the sense that there are still conflicts that you hear about everyday in the news. No one seems to get on well with anybody now. That’s a shame. I see it as a shame. People should be able to live together in harmony.

Q: What’s your favourite part about MGCI?

A: Like most of the schools I’ve been to, it was hard coming here at first, learning the new school. But my objective is to get on with the kids. Say hi when I see them, say good morning when I see them and try not to be against them rather than be with them. If they ever needed to come and say anything to me, Kenny this or Kenny that, I would listen. I wouldn’t say, “Well, I don’t care.” I do care. I do care about the kids in this school because you should. You shouldn’t let them feel that you’re the bad guy. You’re here to look after them and make sure their day in school is safe. And that’s the thing I like about MGCI. The kids are generally good. I mean every school has kids who are a wee bit, let’s say, out of line. Here, there’s not so much compared to when I was at Victoria Park. Victoria Park is a hard school at first to get along with because the kids were always fighting, especially the girls. Ooh they were brutal. But here I don’t find it as bad. I honestly don’t. I think that this is a really good school to be and work in.

Q: What’s something about MGCI that you don’t like?

A: I wouldn’t say there’s anything that I don’t like so much about MGCI.  I like everything here. I get on well with the kids, I like the staff. The staff are very good, very courteous. They all say good morning to me in the morning. I like it here.

Q: What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?

A: Well I don’t really have much spare time because I go from here to the Air Canada Centre where I work. And in my other spare time I just do nothing. Sometimes I don’t have any spare time.

Q: What do you do at the Air Canada Centre?

A: I’m gate staff. When people come in, I scan their tickets and direct them to the area where they’re going to sit. And when I get a minute, I get a chance to see parts of the games and the concerts as well! I love the concerts. I can now honestly say because of my 15 years at the ACC, I’ve seen every artist from A to Z. You name the artist, I’ve probably seen them. All the way from Adele to, what’s his name…Jay-Z!

Q: How did you get into this job?

A: It was actually kind of a fluke. I was telling a a friend of mine that I was getting a bit fed up with this [CRA] job because I keep getting this and I keep getting that and he said, why don’t you call this number because they’re hiring hall monitors. And I thought, what have I got to lose? So I phoned the number, they sent me a package, I went in for an interview, and the rest is history.

Q: If you could say one thing to the student body, what would you say?

A: I’d say take from your life from what you want in life. I left school when I was 15. I went into the work force and my ambition was to join the Navy. My grandfather, my father, and my brother all served in the Royal Navy. My grandfather in the WWI, my father in WW2, and my brother served during the Malayan Crisis in the 60s so I’d always wanted to join. If you’ve ever thought about joining the armed services, there’s nothing wrong about it. It teaches you discipline, respect, how to look after yourself. When I was there, you did all of your own washing and ironing which was a shock to the system. Learning how to wash clothes by hand and doing my own ironing was a growing up process for me. When you grow up and go to college/university, you’re on your own. You have to learn the basic things, like how to cook, how to wash, and how to iron. So, in general, take from your life from what you want in life.