My first teaching position, at 19 years old in 1970, was in a large elementary school in a small town in Manitoba. The culture in the town and the surrounding district was strong Ukrainian — interesting but unfamiliar to my English upbringing.
The first morning of school I was nervous and overwhelmed as my 35 Grade 2 students kept pouring into my classroom: desks and students left no space to manoeuvre. The vice-principal, Marc, a well-respected, good-humoured teacher, came to the rescue.
I began to call the names as students stood one by one. I had been told that most all Ukrainian names ended with a “ski or chuck.”
Marc was amused when, in my naiveté, I called Vincent Clearski. The sweetest little aboriginal student, from a nearby reservation, stood quietly and answered. Marc corrected my pronunciation to Clearsky.
I knew I had lots to learn. ❚
Glenice Wilson is a Barrhead resident who taught elementary school for 10 years in Manitoba.