He had been born and grew up in the community of Leaside in Toronto. He attended Leaside High School and, after graduating from university he went back there to teach, eventually became the department head of mathematics, and stayed there for his entire working life. He bought a house two blocks from the school and, like their father, his two children attended there as well.
By contrast, I started teaching at Leaside in 1974 and left in 1987 a 13 year stint that was only broken by a three year leave during which I taught on the Canadian Forces base in Lahr, West Germany. My administrative career in the public system included two principalships and a superintendency; I went on to become the executive director of the Canadian Educational Standards Institute and the Canadian Association of Independent Schools; and I was Head of School at three independent schools in Montreal, Bermuda, and now North Vancouver. On my journey, I have worked in two school districts; three provinces; and three countries. I have had ten offices and have gone from using a electric typewriter and a Gestetner machine, to an iPad, a Chromebook and a SmartBoard. During my 41 years as an educator, I have visited hundreds of schools and worked with thousands of teachers and administrators. In other words, I have followed the classic 21st century career path.
But what of my friend? I have always had too much of the wanderlust and drive for change to stay put for too too long, but when I think about him, it is easy to recognize the price that you pay for choosing my path. As I said, the church last Monday was overflowing. I visited with old colleagues and former students and met a raft of people from the community whose lives he had touched in one way or another. He had roots. And, although I have shaken my head from time to time when I have thought about my friends who have stayed in the same place for decades, it was never more apparent to me than at that funeral about the difference between breadth of professional experience, and depth.
If I had it to do over, would I have chosen his career path? Probably not, but it was a reminder that the path not taken could also have been rich and rewarding in ways that I could have never imagined. And, even in death, my friend Stick remains living proof of that simple truth.