I haven’t been blogging for several reasons; marking students’ work (Philosophies of Education), my work with EnglishCentral (stay tuned for major developments) and just needing a break. But mostly haven’t been writing because of the loss of the greatest teacher I’ve ever known – bar none. Doug “Gus The Bus” Worth.
It’s been a tough year – lost my coach/teacher/mentor Mr. Z. and that threw me a curve ball. Very unexpected. But the loss of Mr. Worth was more than just a personal loss or a loss for my family (who were close to him), it was a hole blown into our whole community. At his funeral, you could feel that emptiness.
Doug’s greatness as a teacher was of many parts. Let me list them, they are a model all us teachers should follow:
1. Praise. He knew how to praise well. Always made you feel special.I wrote about him several years ago in this regard.
2. The Art of the Personal. He listened to you. You knew he cared. He’d send notes, stop you on the street, give you photos and clippings of your achievements.
3. Memory.He knew everyone, called all students by name and never forgot a thing. He’d pull up details about you that even you had forgotten.
4. Success. Doug taught all students but made sure the lowest of us mastered the basics. His legendary “hints” about tests got us all prepared and learning. He fostered success, never tried to put up barriers to achievement or use tests as a “trick”.
5. Being Human. Doug was never afraid to be himself or not be himself, whatever it took to get the students motivated. His jokes and stories beginning lessons are legendary. So too his funny walk, his chalk antics, his now iconic expressions. The video above shows Doug at his finest – a 1983 assembly at our high school, New Liskeard Secondary School. He plays the role of “Gus the Bus (Driver)” . If you watch, you’ll get to know why he touched the lives of so many.
6. Community and Service. This is the most important and what I want to highlight for all teachers. We are part of a wider community, it is here where what we do in the classroom begins to grow. Doug was so active in the community, a light, a beacon. He leaves us with a calling, a calling to create community through our day to day acts. To not be a 9-5 teacher but a teacher in heart, wherever, whenever. That our small town is left with such a big hole now, speaks volumes of how Doug made “education” something beyond the 4 walls of school.
I’m glad I got to visit Doug just before his passing. He still had that twinkle in his eye, a saintliness. I’ll remember it always and pay homage to him by doing more to foster community and take my own teaching out of the confines of the institution and into life.
I haven’t been on skis for years. I’m heading out for a little ski in memory of Doug – he loved “the boards” and being out there in the wild.