Part of a three-piece segment, the Reckoner sat down with the three teachers retiring this school year at MGCI. The two teachers apart from Ms. Lawford are Mrs. White from the English department, and Mr. Melville from the social sciences department.
Ms. Lawford has been at Marc Garneau for over 15 years, teaching ESL and English. She took a sick leave this year, and recently submitted her letter of resignation.
Her career in education began due to her curiosity and constant willingness to learn and teach. She said, “I love learning myself and I wanted to share that.” Every year, what Ms. Lawford has taught has been different. “One year is never the same as another, there is always something, [such as] new education programs we have to be aware of and bring into the classroom. I think I’ve learned everything, but there’s always something different, even when I’m teaching the same course. I never can do the same teaching plan. I have to be flexible.” Teaching has given her a greater understanding of how people learn: “I think because you understand the process of how people learn, you understand that sometimes you need to give people space to pick up things on their own. But as a teacher, I’m finding that I have a better way of explaining things than other people do.”
With almost thirty years of teaching experience, Ms. Lawford has seen a lot of changes. She said that one of the more beneficial changes was the increasing diversity in the teaching community. “There are now so many different kinds of teachers. We never saw ethnically diverse or women teachers. Now we have so many people from different parts of the world coming into teaching and also see more female teachers.”
Ms. Lawford also spoke about why she retired, and said that, “I thought it was time. I felt that I was burnt out. My family needs me—there are a lot of people in my life who need me. I also felt that people coming up in teaching…were more current than I was… I decided that it was time for other people who had that passion to do their job.”
She is enjoying her retirement: “I enjoy the time to myself to do what I want to do. I had to live by the bells and the schedule. It’s been a real freedom, not living by bells and not living by clocks.”
However, Ms. Lawford still misses the vibrant atmosphere that the students revel in. “Even though now that
I’m retired, I miss the kids. And just being around young people, it keeps you young yourself. Young people are interested about everything and they want to know everything.”
As a last message for MGCI students, she said, “Take risks. Do things that feel uncomfortable because that’s where the greatest reward is going to come. Things that sometimes make you feel scared are where the growth is going to come from.”