In stories, Third

At the ECC, we’re extremely lucky to have an incredible team of dedicated teachers, many of whom have been with Holy Blossom Temple for many years. Some of our teachers now teach the children of the children they taught. One of our teachers now calls her former nursery teacher her colleague and friend.

We recently had a dinner party to celebrate the teachers and to honour four in particular: we said goodbye to Barbara Cohen who is retiring after 22 years at HBT and to Sara Bank who has decided to return as a supply teacher next year, and we congratulated Debbi Snider on her 20th anniversary at HBT and Brenda Baskind on her 30th anniversary at HBT. All four women are dearly loved by their colleagues and the many children they have taught over the years. Debbi said, “I love going to work so much that I wake up in the morning singing.” The truth is, Debbi isn’t the only one who feels that way and it is to the great benefit of the children, their families and the Holy Blossom community to have a team of teachers who wake up singing every morning and bring passion and enthusiasm to their work every day.

While all four honoured teachers said a few words to the group that night, Brenda and Barbara prepared speeches. We are happy to share them with you here:

A chance meeting leads to 30 years of fulfilment (Brenda)

In 1986, while on the beach in Cape Town, South Africa, I was introduced to a lovely lady named Lorraine Sandler. Little did I know at the time that she would have a huge impact on my life.

Lorraine told me she was visiting South Africa from Toronto and that she was the Director of a nursery school in Toronto. Being a nursery school teacher, about to immigrate to Toronto, I was intrigued. What a wonderful introduction! Lorraine suggested I call her when I arrived to see if she had a teaching position for me.

I never gave it another thought.

When we arrived in Toronto on July the 20th, 1987, shell-shocked and exhausted, I never thought to call Lorraine. I was shy and just getting my bearings when one day the phone rang and it was Lorraine. She asked me when I had arrived and why I had not called her and then offered me a job starting that September.

I told her I would ask my husband and get back to her. She was shocked and told me she was offering me the job – not my husband! She told me to think about it and call her back within the hour. I was shaking! What should I do? My husband encouraged me to take the job and told me how lucky I was to get this offer.

And so it was, that 30 years ago Lorraine and I each took a chance on a woman we barely knew. I started to work at a school I had never heard of and knew nothing about. But there was something about Lorraine that gave me a sense of security and I could sense her passion and dedication to the school. That chance meeting on the beach in Cape Town, has paid off big time.

In those days people lined up from 4am to get into Holy Blossom Temple Preschool. They sat on beach chairs outside the Dewbourne doors until they opened at 9am for registration. After a few years of this, Lorraine introduced the lottery system for registration

I grew up in a Jewish home, but had never taught in a Jewish school in South Africa. Lorraine was my mentor – she guided me as I learned the Jewish songs, stories and holy days

I have been part of the Holy Blossom family for 30 years and it is my home away from home. I have taught with so many co-teachers over the years and each one has become dear to me – even when they moved on. We have all been through so much together over the years – weddings, births, deaths and all the numerous life events.

Over the years, I have enjoyed being part of so many wonderful families and kids. I have shared their joys and simchas and have seen kids grow up into amazing Jewish youth. Some have even come back to register children of their own.

Now, in my 30th year at Holy Blossom, I am often asked if I think about retiring – the answer is “no, not at all”. Every morning, I drive down Bathurst street, happy to get to work and join the team of women who mean so much to me and to spend time with the children in my care and their parents. It means the world to see the faces of the children smiling and giving hugs, and parents who appreciate me. As long as I have the will and the enthusiasm to keep going I intend to be here at Holy Blossom with a smile and a joke and with love.

So thanks, Lorraine, for taking a chance on a stranger who you met on the beach all those years ago. My life has been forever enriched.

Barbie June 13th, 2017 – Retirement Speech

Wow! Where have the years gone? I have been here in my Holy Blossom Preschool “Home away from home” for 22 years.

I entered this profession in Sept. 1968, dedicated to teaching the lives of preschoolers, assisting them to achieve their potential physically, emotionally, and socially. I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of children who have become “little mensches” over my approximately 35 teaching years.

I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to share my enthusiasm, respect, love, and above all my heart with you!

People ask me: “What are you going to do now?”

Well, I will “PLAY” with my grandchildren; I will remember George Bernard Shaw’s quote from his poem on “Success.” You don’t get old from playing; you get old when you “STOP” playing. I brought this poem to Holy Blossom many years ago and read it annually on Curriculum Nights to the parents, and have shared it with you too.

I will spend more quality time with my 101 ½ year old father, enjoy continuing to spend time with my friends and family, enroll in Tai Chi Classes, take lots of walks and above all, try to take care of myself!

I hope to continue seeing all of you on supply teaching days.

I want to pay tribute to you, my Colleagues, for your support, encouragement and friendship.

I will always remember the laughter and great times we have shared together.

The next chapter in my life is about to start and I am excited to see what new adventures lay ahead. I love you all!

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