Retired teacher Anne Reynolds with her former student
Carter Pitre, a new teacher.
A teacher’s legacy: Making an intergenerational difference
It’s a cool, cloudy morning, and two teachers meet in the hallway before classes start. Not the most remarkable occurrence—these two have met many times before—but this time it’s different.
One of them is Carter Pitre, a new teacher, just over a year into his career. He teaches a Grade 6 class at North Ridge Elementary in Surrey. The other is Anne Reynolds, now retired, who was Carter’s teacher when he was in Grades 6 and 7.
Anne has come to see his classroom and meet his students. This is the first time they’ve met since Carter has started to teach.
As a child, Carter realized he had a passion for working with children. His mother ran a home-based daycare and he began helping with the children when he was old enough to contribute. This interest was deepened by his teacher, Anne.
“She was kind, warm-hearted, and challenged me to take risks even though I struggled with confidence,” Carter says. “Mrs. Reynolds inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming an educator.”
Before meeting this morning, Carter told me it’s been a few years since he’s last seen Anne. “I’ve bumped into her a couple of times over the past several years and she’s now retired. The last time I spoke with her, I had just decided to go back to school to become a teacher. She told me that she thought I would be a great teacher, so that was great to hear,” he says.
Anne remembers Carter fondly. “He was a fairly quiet child at first, but as he felt more comfortable with me he became talkative and his fun-loving side came out. He was a good role model for students both in his classroom and in the school as a whole.”
“I feel very honoured that I inspired Carter to be a teacher,” says Anne, who taught him at South Meridian Elementary in Surrey. “I used to try to get my students to think about their future direction in life by having a career fair each year and many discussions about what they should do in order to fulfill their dreams. I always said school was their most important job if they wanted to move forward in life. They had to stick with it, challenges and all.”
They walk into Carter’s classroom, Anne admiring the space and expansive windows on the north wall. She has brought photos to share—a class photo with her 2001–02 Grade 6/7 class, and a photo of Carter with his science fair project (he says he was invited to show it at the district science fair but was too shy).
Carter explains to Anne how quickly his teaching career began. He finished the PDP with Simon Fraser University in December 2017 and was hired as a TTOC for Surrey within a week. The following month, at the age of 28, he obtained a term contact as a Grade 3 teacher at École Woodward Hill—the same school where he did his practicum teaching Grade 7.
As a new teacher, he reports his biggest surprise about teaching is how wonderfully the children challenge him every day. “I’m learning just as much from them as they are from me. I’m excited for what the future will bring!”
Anne has one final piece of wisdom to share. “I think the most important advice I have for both Carter and other new teachers is that they have to love the job. Teaching is not something you can do unless you are prepared to put everything you can into it. Also, you have to make each student feel special and show them you care. I wish Carter all the best as he embarks on his career. I know that he will do well and inspire each of his students to reach their potential.”
It’s 8:30 a.m., and the bell has sounded. Students are coming into the classroom, glancing at their teacher and the stranger by his side. They settle in, and before taking attendance, Carter introduces Anne to his students. “This is Mrs. Reynolds. She was my Grade 6 teacher, just like I’m your teacher,” he says. There are some wide eyes and surprised faces.
I smile, wondering if there is a future teacher in the room with us. As it turns out, two of his students are interested in becoming teachers. They join us in the hall for a quick photo before the day’s lessons begin.
By Jennifer Kimbley, Teacher editor
Reprinted from Teacher magazine, Volume 31, Number 5, May/June 2019.