Mr. Cubberly was a beloved math teacher in northern Ontario. He adored his job and loved those moments when the light bulb went on in a student’s head after solving an equation. The short, squat man had arms like tree trunks and a brain for numbers; it was like he was put on earth to teach kids not to be afraid of fractions and how they impacted people’s lives.

Mr. Cubberly was one of the few educators who gave part marks for the formula, even if you got the answer wrong. It was the one detail that his students loved about him. They also loved the fact that he didn’t believe in corporal punishment in the classroom. Unlike some of his colleagues, he didn’t rap his pupils behind the ears or shake them like Raggedy Ann dolls. Strange how this behaviour among students would often bring swift consequences, but not for stalwart teachers.

Forty-five minutes into Mr. Cubberly’s class and everyone knew it was time for . . . The Black Donnellys. Every day, like clockwork, he pulled out the book and began reading to his captivated charges who couldn’t wait to hear more about Canada’s deadliest crime feuds. Not sure if the principal would have approved of such extra-curricular study, but the kids surely didn’t complain; they hung onto every thrilling passage like a cheetah to a gazelle.

Whatever the method used, teachers are worth every penny in the education budget. In their continual pursuit to engage our children, they wear many hats by sculpting, counselling, guiding, facilitating, and redirecting where opportunities lie. They are the guardians of our youth, the stewards of their future, the molder of dreams. 

Surprisingly or not, a group of parents and educators plan to open up their own micro-school in Invermere this fall. The plan is to go beyond the confines of the traditional classroom by embracing an outdoor education model. Stay tuned for more information on Invermere Rise Academy led by guide Dylan Dainard, an award-winning educator.

While self-directed (personalized) learning would have been scoffed at 40 years ago, it is being embraced today. Mechanical (rote) education may have worked in that bygone era, but it simply doesn’t cut it these days; students aren’t robots anymore.

As graduation approaches, pupils will be saying goodbye to some of the most important people in their lives — their teachers who had a profound impact on how they grew up and viewed the world; a world they will hopefully change for the better.

Lyonel Doherty, editor