In a time when people often change careers or jobs every seven years or so, Donna McGregor is an exception. She is retiring after 37 years as an educator! That’s an outstanding career, especially in such a demanding field. Her career timeline looks like this:
• Started in 1981 in Waskada – Gr. 4-5
• Wawanesa for 1982 – Gr. 1
• Waskada 1983 – 2006: Kindergarten for 15 years and then travelled doing Reading Recovery
• Spruce Grove, Alberta 2006-2012 – Grade 1
• Melita – 2012 – Gr. 3
• Deloraine – Resource
“I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. In fact in Grade 5 we had to write autobiographies and I said I wanted to be a teacher. Teaching is in the family – my mother and grandmother were teachers and my husband, Norm’s mom subbed until she was 80! I have taught three generations of kids. I’ve learned something from everyone along the way – there are so many good teachers and education assistants.”
McGregor notes that the biggest change she’s seen is with technology — using smart boards, I-pods and I-phones and such as teaching tools. She sees this as a positive change for the most part and feels teachers have to get on board with it and embrace the technology. She is also able to draw comparisons between small and large schools, having taught it both. “In the small schools, we are able to teach the whole child — and that’s the real value of small schools. In the big schools you only see the students for a short time.”
She noted other challenges in teaching include more special needs. “I commend Manitoba as it puts money into facing these needs. As well, we are working towards more mental health awareness. There is a lot of pressure on students —we live in a stressful world and one of the initiatives that have been introduced in Deloraine School is a wellness hour. We need to have kids feel good about themselves and have a sense of belonging.”
McGregor is a very positive person and she is ending her career on a very high note. She nominated the Grade 5 class for an Inclusion Manitoba award. This class has embraced their classmate Adam from day one. Adam has some learning and intellectual disabilities and the class has always been very compassionate towards him. “The kids have become the adults – they are coming up with ideas how to help Adam. They have taken on the role of teacher with him.” (See separate article about the Inclusion Manitoba award)
Retirement for McGregor means visiting her grandbabies and substitute teaching.
“The thing I love most about teaching is when former students speaks to me and tell me I made a difference in their lives — it is an honour, it touches my soul, and it is the reward of teaching,” she concluded.