January 10, 2010

Addy McCleod - Glynis Belec

Today, as I read another blog, memories flooded back. The blog writer talked about a negative experience she had with a teacher many years ago. She spoke of how the incident affected her life and how we can be influenced by such an experience. I agreed wholeheartedly about the kind of impact a person in a position of authority can have on a child. That influence can be positive or negative and it can have great bearing as he or she grows.

Then I thought about Mrs. Addy McCleod, my sixth grade teacher. Mrs. Mcleod was the first teacher I had when I came to Canada. Everyone said she was firm and mean. I found out that her heart was golden and she had the patience and compassion of a saint.
It was 1967. The boys in my new school were terribly cruel to me for a multitude of reasons. First, I had a funny English/Scottish accent. My mother made me wear the same gray school uniform that I wore to school in Scotland. They called me stale because it seemed as if that was all I had to wear. Many tearful afternoons were filled with questions for my mother.
"Why are the boys so cruel to me? Why do I have to wear this silly uniform? Why did we come to Canada, anyway? "
Soon Mom bought us more clothing and relented about us having to wear our school uniforms each day. But the boys still found reasons to pick on me.

Mrs. McLeod would sometimes catch those mean boys teasing me and she would give them the dickens. I remember many times spent with her in the classroom. She protected me from the nasty verbal blows. She intervened when I was most vulnerable. She encouraged me to be the best I could be and she showed me how to seize learning opportunities. She had not one iota of meanness in her even though she ran a tight ship in her classroom and even the mean boys knew better than to challenge her or misbehave.

As I work with children each day this week, I am going to think about Mrs. McLeod and the profound influence she had in my early years. I will remember how important it is to stick up for the weak, the forgotten, the insecure, the timid, the new kid on the block...

Come to think of it, Addy McLeod showed a lot of Jesus. I am thinking that maybe...just maybe...she opened up a door for me. She has passed the torch. My turn.


  1. This article makes me remember my teachers also, and the wonderful impact of their lives. It is true that we remember them far more than the content of their teaching... and that is important for those of us who have students! Thanks for this piece.

  2. Sweet story. I'm glad kind Mrs. McCleod was in your life. And you have probably been her facsimile to many other little sad, lost Glynises.

  3. This is such a good reminder for me as I work with children. Sometimes I forget that a teacher does more than teach!
    Pam Mytroen


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