Serving Dorchester, Belmont, Thorndale, Thamesford, Putnam, Crampton, Avon, Harrietsville-Mossley and surrounding area

Three teachers retiring

from local school

Signpost photo by Wendy Spence
From left, River Heights teachers Christine Findlater, Tom Fright and Chris Boston prepare to bid the local school, staff members, students and their parents a fond farewell during an open house today (Wednesday, June 20) from 4 to 6:30 p.m. They are retiring after 30 years in education.

by Wendy Spence

        It’s a bittersweet time for three staff members at River Heights public school. Longtime teachers Tom Fright, Chris Boston and Christine Findlater are all retiring after 30 years; most of those years were spent at the Dorchester school for two of the teachers and the other has spent her entire career there. They will have a chance to reminisce and celebrate during an open house in their honour, today (Wednesday, June 20) from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the school.
        “I feel very fortunate that music has been my passion,” said Fright, a music teacher. He plans to carry that through retirement. “I’ve been able to take what I know and my love and passion of it and share it with students.” Over the course of his career he has mostly taught the arts, including music, drama and dance, as well as phys-ed. It was always a proud moment for Fright when the school choirs performed. “It gives me goosebumps every time you have kids in an assembly singing.”
        Boston has spent all 30 years of her teaching career at River Heights, leading classes from senior kindergarten to Grade 4 in that period of time – kindergarten for the majority. She had a fondness for teaching Grade 1 and found it valuable. “Having taught Grade 1, I had a better idea of what I could do to build that foundation.” Boston received her early childhood educator designation, worked for a year, and then went back to school so she could teach kindergarten. “I always knew I would work with the younger kids.” She figured out that she has taught 600 children during the course of her career and also that she has spent an entire 365 days (8760 hours) on her commute from home to the school.
        “This school is an amazing place to have spent the majority of my career,” said Findlater, who recalls having a Commodore 64 in a portable (the school had eight portables at one point) that she didn’t know how to use. She found the community to be so wonderful that her family moved to Dorchester. Findlater will still be able to learn about some of the accomplishments of students in the future since she lives here. She taught grades 4 and 5 in Strathroy before joining the staff at River Heights, where she initially taught Grade 2. Findlater found it a bit of a culture shock teaching younger students at first. For most of her career at the local school, she has taught Grade 3.
        Boston most enjoyed teaching the kids and getting to know the families in this area. It’s not uncommon to have taught an entire family over the years. She will miss being with her colleagues 194 days of the year. “That’s going to be difficult.” Some of the students have said, “I really hope Mrs. Boston changes her mind.”
        Findlater has loved learning and working with the kids. She said it has been very rewarding, when working with children who have been struggling, to see the light go on when they understand a concept.
        Fright echoed those sentiments. He has also enjoyed the hugs he’s received from students since they found out about his retirement.
        Boston is honoured to have started so many kids’ education and instil within them a love of learning. “I’ve enjoyed the learning along with the kids.” When they first start school, she said she knows they have the skills to accomplish things, but not the confidence. Usually that turns around by Thanksgiving. A relaxed atmosphere is helpful. “We just try to make it a fun place.”
        “I think they thrive on routine,” said Findlater. Students like knowing what to expect and when. “So many kids want to be right,” she said. “You learn more often than not from your mistakes.”
        One of the biggest changes over the years in education and the world in general has been technological advancements. Boston, who said she’s still a paper and pencil person, said it’s not always for the better. “In some ways I think technology is hurting education and in some ways it’s amazing.” She adds that is has changed kids, and also that parenting styles have changed.
        Fright said one of the greatest changes for him has been the creation of a music room. “It’s really been a treat for my last few years.”
        In retirement he plans to relax, travel (hopefully to Italy in the fall), perform more, compose more and help his wife at the Thames Valley Suzuki School. “There are different roads to travel through music.”
        Findlater looks forward to travelling to New York in the fall and to Germany for the Christmas market. She plans to read more and learn how to knit.
        Boston hopes to travel more and is happy she’ll now be able to do that during non-peak periods. She is heading to Ireland next month. She also wants to spend more time with her mother, volunteer, and perhaps take up a few hobbies, including photography. “I’m going to take every day as it comes.”

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