EMSB teacher Barbara Weiss retires after a remarkable 60 year career
Following a remarkable teaching career of 60 years, Barbara Weiss has decided to retire.
Ms. Weiss spent the past 30 years at Willingdon Elementary School in NDG. Prior to that she was at four other primary schools – Westminister, Iona, Carlyle and Algonquin.
“I love teaching,” said Ms, Weiss. “I woke up every morning looking forward to going to school. I loved the pupils. I loved working with them, and seeing positive changes. I supported parents, as well as students, and I loved being able to do that. Sometimes, I found that the parent of a child in my class was also a pupil of mine years earlier. I got to work with wonderful teachers and administrators. But the most important reason? I believe I made a difference in people’s lives; there is no other feeling like it!”
Ms. Weiss said she has many fond memories over the past six decades. “The kids often delighted me,” she said. “Last year, one class got the idea of forming an honour guard when we came upstairs after gym. They would go a little ahead of me, and I would find half of my class on the left side of the door, and the other half on the right side. They all had their arms up in the air, forming a kind of tunnel. I would bend down, and walk through. I always thanked them for the privilege. One day, I found one of my boys, who was wearing a red sweater, lying on the floor right under the other children’s upraised arms. I said, ‘Allan, what are you doing on the floor?’ He replied, ‘I am your red carpet.’
“There were many humorous moments, but there were times when I was able to help children who were being bullied, and to help the bullies as well,” she continued. “I especially loved helping children who considered themselves to be stupid realize they were not stupid at all. I loved seeing children support one another; it was very common in my classes to have pupils burst into applause when one of the students got a high mark, or did something noteworthy.”
Ms. Weiss said she is now excited to begin this new chapter in her life. “I hope to channel my love of teaching into creating a series of eBooks, geared toward parents, students and teachers, focusing on techniques and methods I have used,” she said. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with my husband, a psychologist, whose advice has been invaluable to me over the years.”
Abraham Weiss has been retired for 25 years from the Jewish General Hospital. “He has been extraordinarily supportive of my desire to keep teaching,” Ms. Weiss said. “We have a house in the country, and it would have been wonderful to spend three or four days a week there. Instead, we fought rush hour traffic every Friday afternoon and drove for the longest time so I could continue my career.”
Willingdon Principal Carmen Nicolas is full of admiration for Ms. Weiss, honoured to have been able to work with her these last few years. “It was inspiring to be working alongside a teacher with so much dedication, experience and passion for the profession,” she commented. “Barbara was positive, enthusiastic and energetic. She was open to learning new things. She loved her ‘ pupils,’ which is how she referred to her students and she worked hard to see them succeed. My fondest memory of Barbara is seeing her going up the Willingdon stairs two by two and her pupils trying to follow in her footsteps. Her energy is limitless!”