This is part 2 of the interview I did with my father, Guy J. LeBlanc, for a new blog series called, Educational Influences. My intention with this series is to share the stories of people who have influenced my perception of education. I know you will learn as much from them as I did, and this is why I want to share their stories here.
In the last post, my father spoke about the beginning of his career in education. This post continues from his time as an elementary school PE teacher where he answers the question, “What was one of your most memorable moments teaching PE?”
Guy: The other was to give elementary students the chance to participate in sports they had never even heard about. Like soccer: in Clare (where we grew up) soccer was not a sport that was recognized. We started volleyball, badminton. Volleyball, that my daughters, and many others participated in, started here at the elementary level. Another teacher, James Boudreau, had organized the first volleyball team that participated at the Jeux de l’Acadie (a provincial, multi-sport competition for the Acadian regions in Canada’s Atlantic provinces): they were grade seven girls from École Joseph Dugas. And from there, volleyball has always been a sport that is strong in Clare. We were often the Nova Scotia champions.
Me: So because of the work that you did, in terms of bringing sports to the community,…
Guy: It was the first team from Nova Scotia that ever played for the Jeux d’Acadie because before that it was only for the acadian youths from New Brunswick. Because of my affiliation with recreation, I knew guys at the University of Moncton and basically they were the backbone of les Jeux de l’Acadie. So they invited me to a meeting and we left there with the participation of one team, and now it’s a full delegation like any other region from New Brunswick.
Me: And at that time the first team or group was just a volleyball team?
Guy: Yes. A group of girls. Louanne Dugas, Judy Aucoin who’s on CIFA (Acadian radio station) now, Brenda LeBlanc… that was at the grade 7 level at the elementary school. Only the grade sevens at that time. And then after that… well, you played for many years after that. (My sister – at Louizette Photography – and I played varsity volleyball throughout our middle school and high school years. My sister also played for the provincial team. Les Jeux were the highlight of our summers.)
Me: And it was because of you?
Guy: Yeah, I guess I was there. I wasn’t scared to step out of Clare to network, and so we had the opportunity, and we had people who supported us. At that time there was Yvon Samson who worked for the FANE who helped us raise money. And then the year after, well, Clare was going, so Ste. Anne du Ruisseau (the municipality of Argyle) put together a team. Then Richmond went, and then Cheticamp…everyone. In the Acadian regions if one wants to do it, the others do too. So then everyone was encouraged.
Me: In relation to the students, when you were teaching at the elementary school, was there a student who stood out for you, or something you learned about teaching children?
Guy: One thing I learned is that children up to the age of 4 or 5, at least back then, don’t have secrets. Often, what happens at home, you (the PE teacher) would hear about it in the PE class. They trusted you and they spoke about it. Often you heard strange things, and at that time there weren’t all the regulations that there are now. Some kids did not have a good time at home. I realized at that time that there were people who weren’t treated well, but in their eyes, they were happy. Today you might say they were abused, but it was just because the parents didn’t know better. And some of them (the students) turned out really great.
Me: You thought it was the PE class that helped them to speak?
Guy: The PE class was less formal than others so they could speak to you. I guess they felt they could speak more freely, more often.
Me: Do you remember if they would take you aside, or was it just random?
Guy: Well, it was just random for them. It wasn’t a big thing. They were waiting their turn to serve the ball or to go on the court, or something like that.
Me: Anything else about the students?
Guy: There were many more students back then. There were large classes.
Me: Did you think motivation was different than it was today?
Guy: There weren’t computers, so kids were looking for something to do, whether it was sports or dance. They had more time for that than they do now. Now they have time but they have more choices. They can spend two hours on the internet, or on video games. At that time there weren’t any. The only video games If you can call them that ones that existed were at Alcide’s Restaurant, or the Submarine Restaurant… pinball machines. That was the closest to video games that existed.
Me: What was after this?
Guy: I was president of the Chamber of Commerce. I was in charge of the Boys Scouts in our area. That was when I was teaching I think.
Me: You were in charge of the Boy Scouts because you were a Boy Scout?
Guy: Yes. I went through that system. Then I went to the Chamber of Commerce.
Me: Was it volunteer?
Me: Why did you want to do that?
Guy: I was always interested in the well-being of the community. To make sure that there were jobs and that people stayed; to develop something new in the community.
Me: I guess that’s why you entered politics. Was it because you really wanted to make a big change?
My father will answer this question in part 3 of this interview in the following weeks.
You can also find the post I wrote about my father for International Teacher Development Institute, Outside Influences Issue, at this link.