After 44 years as an educator, Alan Kennedy has decided it’s time for a change.
Kennedy taught at Cobequid Educational Centre and Truro Junior High, and has been principal at Redcliff Middle School since it opened in 1997.
I love my job, and it’s difficult to retire, however, I need time to do other things that are important to me,” he said.
A summer job at the Shelburne Youth Centre led Kennedy into teaching.
“I learned how smart, capable and caring kids were, as long as you show them respect,” he said. “At the end of the summer, I was offered a job, but I thought it would be best to become a teacher and then return to the centre.”
When he was ready to begin teaching, in 1974, a position at the CEC drew him to Truro. He later taught at Truro Junior High, and when Redcliff was being built he applied for the position of principal.
“I’m very proud of the structure we have here,” he said. “It’s a safe learning environment for kids to excel and develop their potential, where they know the boundaries of what is accepted and what isn’t in the school environment.
“I don’t believe there are bad kids; there are kids who are doing bad things. It’s important to teach kids respect for themselves and others. Take care of the kids and learning takes care of itself.”
He feels there’s more consistency with children today than ever before, and more acceptance, although he has noticed a rise in anxiety.
“Kids today are way ahead with technology, more aware of their surroundings, and demand more of education. We have an informed population of kids who want to learn.
“There’s more of a global influence. We used to live in Nova Scotia, now we live in the global world.”
Kennedy initiated exploratories, where children learn while fulfilling physical, social and emotional needs. He also set up teaming for teachers.
“We all work as a team,” he said. “Teachers work with me, not for me.”
There are 32 teachers, and about 425 students, in Grades 5-7, at Redcliff.
While Kennedy will miss the school, he won’t be sitting around with nothing to do. He plans to do some fishing, bicycling, camping, hiking and travelling, and spending lots of time with his wife, four children and three grandchildren.
This is his tenth year volunteering in a Guatemalan outreach program, installing stoves in homes, and helping with schools and playgrounds. Playing a part in teaching the people to help themselves is something he values greatly.
“I think it’s the right time to retire, but I’ll miss the school,” he added.
“It’s been a wonderful career, watching kids learn and grow into successful young adults.”