Vol 9, Number 14

In Memoriam

v09-14-01

 Blair Tulk B.A., B.Ed

March 14, 1986 – April 19, 2015

Blair Tulk was a student in our Bachelor of Education (Intermediate/Secondary) program.  His teachable subjects were French and Social Studies and I had the pleasure and privilege of having him in my Education 4005 (Effective Teaching) class in the 2014 fall semester.  Blair did his winter semester internship at MacDonald Drive Junior High School in St. John’s under the supervision of Ms. Colette Quann.   Blair returned to MUN on April 13 to complete 2 courses in the 2015 institute and he would have returned to classes on May 4 for his final semester in the B. Ed. program.  Sadly, Blair died suddenly on Sunday, April 19.  This special issue of The Monday eMemo, ordinarily published on a weekly basis during the winter semester, is dedicated to Blair’s memory.  Our thanks to all who have contributed to this issue.   –  Jerome Delaney, Editor

Blair was an enthusiastic supporter of the eMEMO and sent in the following 2 submissions (March 16; March 23) during the latter part of his 13 week internship at MacDonald Drive Junior High School:

Positively reinforced my career choice

This internship has truly been one of the most exciting and interesting experiences of my lifetime. To learn about and live the lifestyle of a teacher for three full months has been absolutely incredible; from all I’ve learned and developed with regards to teaching itself to the interactions with the students and staff members.

Since early January, I have really tried to become fully immersed in my school community, be it in the lessons that I teach or extra-curricular activities. While teaching mostly Grade 8 and 9 Social Studies, I have participated in a range of activities: helping to direct a zombie play for the drama festival, playing drums during a school assembly and being involved with the chess club and student council.

All of this has positively reinforced my career choice and has solidified my decision to become a teacher. One of the coolest things about this internship for me is the fact that I returned to my old junior high 15 years later, but this time I was on “the other side of the fence”! It was a little odd at first, as I had only seen the school from a student’s perspective, but I quickly adopted a teacher mentality and I feel great that my journey has led me back to my old stomping grounds. I am even working alongside some of the teachers that taught me many years ago and several others that were there are still around as well. This brings a level of familiarity to my time back at the school and also helps me to feel right at home.

In conclusion, we never know where the path of life will take us. In my case, it’s been incredible to see the flip side of my past and a promising glimpse into my future. My life in education has indeed come full circle and I can’t wait for the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.  (Intermediate Intern)

A great career awaits us all

As we approach the conclusion of our internships, I have a bittersweet feeling in my heart. I am very much looking forward to continuing onto the next stage of my life as a teacher but I’m also quite sad to be leaving. I will truly miss the students, the staff and the incredible times that I experienced during the last three months. It has been, beyond the shadow of a doubt, one of the most interesting and enjoyable times in my life. Developing lessons, assignments, tests, correcting and all the other aspects of being a teacher have taught me many of the skills and traits that I will need going forward. Beyond this, the interactions and relationships that I have begun to develop seem equally important to me, as this makes everything all the more worthwhile.

This experience has indeed reaffirmed my decision to become a teacher. The internship really could not have gone any better and I am lucky and thankful that I was placed in such a great school and environment. I knew before I began that this was the path for me and I believe even more strongly now that I am meant to be a teacher. To me, this will be the ultimate profession; one that we can enjoy day in, day out, but also one that has incredible value and significance. There was never a moment that made me question it either, even when the going got a little tougher or difficult situations arose. There will surely be hard times but I believe that there will be many good ones to outweigh them. I always like to look at the big picture and in this case, the big picture is incredibly bright and rewarding.

Though our time in the extended internship is drawing to a close, we should think of all the good times we experienced and indeed remember them. We must also look forward to our promising futures as teachers,

be proud of what we will accomplish and the difference that we will all be able to make in the lives of our students. Onward and upward, fellow interns. A great career awaits us all! (Intermediate Intern)

 

Listed below are a number of tributes from Blair’s instructors here in the Faculty of Education, his Bachelor of Education classmates, his students and colleagues at MacDonald Dr. Jr. High.

 

From the Faculty of Education

Blair was in my Education 5000 seminar, which is somewhat of a home base for the intermediate secondary interns as they work through their program. We meet the students in the fall as they begin, supervise them as they work through their courses and internships, and celebrate with them as they complete their program and enter into the teaching profession. It is quite special to be involved in this process. Every new year the pool of talent and individual strengths in our interns is remarkable and Blair was no exception. It was clear from the moment I met him that Blair was going to be a wonderful addition to our profession.

There have been a number of letters and notes expressing how very unique Blair was and highlighting his many exceptional qualities. Throughout the program Blair exhibited all of those attributes and more. As we have heard, Blair had the unique ability to light up any room and make people smile. His potential as a teacher was exceptional. He had the important ability to cut through the distractions of teaching straight through to the heart of the kids he encountered. In my mind, there is no more important attribute in a teacher. And his students loved him. I always looked forward to reading Blair’s journal postings reflecting on his experiences in the classroom. The transition from student to teacher can be challenging but Blair quickly moved passed all of that, consistently respecting and believing in the best in everyone. It was clear this was just who he was.

When I heard the news of Blair’s sudden death, along with the shock and concern for his family, friends, students, and colleagues, I mourned for his future students and the loss of a young man with such promise; a man that was bound to make our world a brighter, happier, richer, and more interesting place. But Blair did that for us anyway. He provided the rest of us with a model of how to be, how to get along, and how to see the best in each other. In his time with his students, it was clear from seeing them at Blair’s memorial, that they already carried his message. For those lessons and the short time that I was able to work with Blair, I will always remember and be thankful for meeting him.

My sincerest sympathies go out to all of his students, his parents, and his friends.  Jennifer Godfrey Anderson, Visiting Assistant Professor

 Every spring semester I look forward to students returning from their long internships to hear their stories and the lessons learned from their experiences. However, this year I started hearing stories about one of our students around my dinner table each night.  As it turned out, Blair Tulk was completing his internship in my son Jacob’s Grade 8 classroom. My son shared stories about Blair’s unique approach to teaching, his enthusiasm, his enjoyment of students, and interesting personality. Everyone it seems liked Blair; they had their pictures taken with him (some of which are on my son’s iPhone), they told stories of what he did in class, they commented on interesting things he said…and sometimes I’d even hear about the interesting outfits he’d wear to school. Blair was unique, and his students appreciated him for it. Blair was accepting, and his students welcomed it. Blair was friendly and reached out to his students, and his students loved him for it. Blair made the type of impression that we want all of our students making during their internship. Blair will be missed by us all.  Chris Mattatall, Assistant Professor

In the fall of 2014, a young man walked into my Social Studies classroom at the university and introduced himself. I immediately thought, “he must be Pauline and Bert’s son”, as I had known them when we worked together in Labrador City in the 1980s. Each day, as the semester progressed, he brought his smile, his enthusiasm, and his sincerity to our classroom. As he got out to the schools in late September and began to work with adolescents, his passion for teaching grew and as he told me one day after class, “now I know what I want to do.”

During the four months of the fall semester I got to know him. He talked about his music (even having to explain it to me at times), joked about his knowledge of sports, his love of hockey and baseball, something that we shared.  He was visibly excited about spending time with his brother. “We really get along,” he told me proudly. He gave me updates of conversations with his parents. It was easy to see how very important family and the comfort of continuity were in his life.

On the final day of exams, he and I walked down the hall of the Education Building. He told me he was “nervous, but excited” about doing his internship. I assured him he would be a terrific teacher and the students would love him. I was right. Before he left that day in mid-December, he hugged me and thanked me for everything I had done for him. I thought how fortunate his students would be to have Mr. Tulk in front of them as I was so fortunate to have Blair in my class.

Although the sun rises and sets on each day, life is not measured in days and years. Blair spent only a short time with us. For me, I got to know him in just four months. But in that short time, I saw a gentle young man, caring, compassionate, with a zest for life – qualities that he left with us to enrich our own lives. And whenever I feel down, I see his infectious smile. We are truly blessed to have had Blair in our lives. Trudi Johnson, Associate Professor 

 As mentioned earlier, Blair was a student in my Education 4005 (Effective Teaching) class in the fall semester. Blair never missed a class and was delighted to be studying to become a teacher. Having done other things before he decided to do the B. Ed. program, Blair was a few years older than the norm in this cohort. However, when he arrived at our doorsteps to study Education, he arrived with a passion and enthusiasm and a dedication to becoming a great teacher. This was most evident in any of my several conversations with Blair over the course of the semester.

His class comments were as equally enthusiastic and passionate. I recall one discussion we were having in class in a debriefing session after students came back from their 2 week introductory internship in the latter part of September. Students were talking about the junior high boys playing with their “Tech Decks” in class while at the same time trying to hide these items from their teachers!  I told my students I didn’t have a clue as to what “Tech Decks” were! Obviously a sign of my vintage! They explained that Tech Decks were miniature skateboards that students could manipulate with their fingers – flips, etc. In fact, you could even change the wheels on these miniature skateboards. During this class discussion, Blair enthusiastically commented, “Sir, I’ll bring you in one.” And, on the day of our final Education 4005 exam, Blair proudly presented me with my own “Tech Deck”! Needless to say, the “Blair Tulk Tech Deck” has become one of my most prized possessions and sits prominently on the shelf in front of my desk here in E4022. I have told this story many times and it will always be a tangible reminder of the great student that I had the privilege, pleasure and honor of teaching as well as the fragility of life itself.

And lastly, during my preparations in putting together this special, I have been particularly impressed with the impact Blair had on his students at MacDonald Dr. Jr. High during his relatively short 13 week internship.  This was most evident at both Blair’s wake and funeral service and from the comments I have heard from a number of people these past couple of months. Indeed, one of the themes permeating the several submissions in this issue speaks to that.  That’s the kind of person Blair Tulk was, a hallmark characteristic of a great educator.

Thank you, Blair, for having touched all of our lives in a very significant way.  Jerome Delaney, Associate Professor

 

In room E5013 a plant grows, winding itself around a straight stick. In front of the pot is Blair’s name tag, neatly printed and outlined in orange—his handwriting. Blair was part of a group of 14 who were taking ED 4642 Restorative Justice in Education—Nurturing Inclusive, Relational Classrooms. During the first class everyone held a seed while I explained that the essence of restorative justice for teaching and learning was in seeing every single human being as worthy and interconnected. I remember Blair nodding his head and being one of the first to plant his seed in the pot that stood in the middle of our circle of chairs. As the week went on, we got to know each other professionally as well as personally. We discovered how Blair loved his Junior High students at MacDonald Drive, how he felt like he had found his profession, and how he was excited about his future. Because of our check-in circles at the beginning of each class, I also discovered that he and I shared a love for Ranch Dorito Chips and were equally frustrated with repairs on our old vehicles that had served us well but had seen better days. Blair had energy and a way of demonstrating for the class how important relationship is in our lives and in our careers as teachers.

The seeds had been planted in hopes that they would germinate and sprout over the weekend illustrating how education is a relational organic process that needs to be nurtured by us as teachers. Monday Blair was not present in class. The seeds had not sprouted. By Tuesday we all knew Blair would not return, and we sat in circle, Blair’s name tag in the middle of the circle in front of the pot where there were still no sprouted seeds. We shared our questions, memories and disbelief that life could be so short. At the end of class, I went to pick up the pot, and there pushing its way through the black soil was one sprouting seed. We all gathered around and felt that in his own unique way, Blair had indeed shown up for class and was making his presence known.

Interestingly, over the next days of the course, the remaining 13 seeds did not sprout. As we gathered each day, the lone plant symbolically reassured us that Blair was present in the memories he left, that life is complex, beyond us, and such an incredible gift to be treasured. Thank you, Blair, for enriching our lives with your curiosity, your questions, and your joy!

[Feel free to drop into ED 5013 to see the Blair plant—now there are 2 more shoots that have joined it.]    Dorothy Vaandering, Associate Professor

 

I’ll begin by thanking Dr. Jerome Delaney for compiling and editing this special edition of the Monday e-Memo in memory of Blair Tulk. I believe that when we lose someone close to us, they still live through us and give us strength. The time we have spent with those we’ve lost makes them part of us. I didn’t really know Blair very well but in the time since his passing I have come to realize that we have lost a special person.  In the short time he was with us in the Faculty of Education, Blair had a profound impact on many members of our learning community – students, faculty and staff.

Since his passing, Blair’s family came to visit the Faculty as our guests. They were very proud that Blair was becoming a teacher and his parents were heartened to know that so many of you have been thinking of him and planning your own project in his memory.  As teachers you will encounter many people whose lives are affected by trauma, sorrow and loss.  It is the way we respond to these situations that defines us as educators.  You have responded to the pain of Blair’s loss with compassion, caring and the kind of strength that makes us proud to count you among our future graduates.

God bless. Gerald Galway, Former Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies

 

From Blair’s Classmates in the B. Ed. Program

Blair was never without a smile on his face, and possessed an enthusiastic and positive nature that was infectious. “Mr. Tulk” became an instant favorite amongst the students at MacDonald Dr. Jr. High (MDJH), and he had such a huge impact in his short time as an educator. I have no doubt that he would have gone on to be one of the greats. Blair is always in our thoughts, and will be greatly missed by all.

Charmaine White, B. Ed. Classmate

Seeing Blair during our internship was always comforting. Our discussions of concerns about our shared classes were lightened by exchanges of funny stories. He had a similar impact on students, always bringing light and laughter. Some even hung around on the last day of class just to say goodbye. His huge grin was contagious between students and staff and that memory still lingers in the halls and the hearts that he touched at MDJH. Erin O’Leary, B. Ed. Classmate

 When a person dies, it always affects someone in some way or another. When an Education student dies, it affects the other students in the faculty, professors in the faculty, family, friends, and so on. But when a young teacher dies, which is what Blair was, all I can think of are the thirty years of students that will miss out on his enthusiasm, passion, and integrity. Blair will be missed by those who knew him, those who know him, and those who will never get to meet him.  B. Ed. Classmate

 Blair was a special kind of person, the type who could light up a room and find a way to brighten everyone’s day. For the short time I knew Blair, it was evident that he was destined to become a great educator. During the first day of our two week internship together, there was no denying that he was ready to dive into the profession. At that time, he already looked like a seasoned veteran and there is no doubt in my mind that he would have been an amazing teacher. Although I only knew Blair for a short time, I will always cherish the conversations we had and he will never be forgotten.  Kyle Locke, B. Ed. Classmate

 Blair Tulk was one of the happiest people I have ever met. I remember the first time he walked into our Social Studies methods class. The professor asked how he was doing, and I’m sure that his reply could be heard two floors away.

I was lucky to have done my internship at MDJH with Blair and seven other students, and through that time we all became friends. For Blair it never mattered how busy he was, he would always make the time to ask you how you were, and that can make a big difference to any person. When Blair was around, there were no bad days. The best part about Blair was the fact that he truly didn’t care what people thought, he was Blair. From my experience throughout our internship, I have learned that Blair was a great teacher. I only hope that I can impact my students in the same ways that he did in his short teaching career.

Alicia Taylor, B. Ed. Classmate

Blair was truly an inspiration to me. He was such an energetic and happy person to be around. He always had a listening ear, and a helping hand. We shared many conversations during the internship this winter and I got to know him better! It was always a joy to see Blair walk into the staffroom, because you knew the phrase, “Wassup peoples, how goes it?” was coming. I will always remember Blair. Rest easy, my friend.

Ashley Giles, B. Ed. Classmate

 Blair’s wonderfully kind and charismatic voice rang through the halls of MDJH and made everyone smile, myself included. He would greet students and fellow teachers with a grin and two thumbs up. I felt his energy in my classroom because his grade 9 students brought it with them, and they will continue to bring it wherever they go.

Sam Griffin, B. Ed. Classmate

 During the two week internship I had the good fortune to sit in on one of Blair’s lessons in World History. When he began, the students were noisy and inattentive, but by the end he had their attention completely. Blair could command a room in a way few others could, and it was a wonderful thing to witness a moment where he was on his way to becoming a great teacher.  David Carroll, B. Ed. Classmate

 I had a few classes with Blair; however, I sadly wasn’t close to him. However, I was still impacted by his immense positive energy and he made me smile every time he entered the class or spoke.

My one memory that will stay in my heart forever is that on December 25th, 9:30 am Christmas morning Blair Tulk sent me a message that read “Merry Christmas Katie! Hope it’s awesome and relaxing! Haha”. This really surprised me and brought a smile to my face. I knew he was a very special guy in class, but this message out of the blue really displayed the kind-hearted and caring person that our dear Blair was. I will never forget his amazing energy, his positivity and his genuine personality. I hope that we all bring a part of Blair to our teaching career. Thank you Blair for being you!

Katie Barbour, B. Ed. Classmate

 I instantly liked Blair. In our first French Methods class, I decided “I like you”. He was goofy, friendly, and enthusiastic, and I instantly liked him. When he talked it was so loud – it was awesome and his French was excellent. I couldn’t help but think to myself “he’s going to be an amazing teacher”. We miss his enthusiasm, his French, and his overall zest for life.  Heidi Kavanagh, B. Ed. Classmate

 There was a day in the fall semester when I was feeling a little in my shell.  Class had just finished and I made my way down the flights of stairs of the Education Building, out the front door, with the goal of just getting home without anyone noticing me.  As I made my way out of the front door and up the pathway, I saw Blair out of the corner of my eye, he was standing on the grass.

I was still on my mission to not be noticed, so I kept my eyes on the ground, feeling a little sad and disconnected for some reason I can’t even remember now.  But this is when Blair snapped me out of my sadness and yelled over to me in his joyful and enthusiastic voice “Hey! What’s up!! How are you?  Enjoying the program?”  It always reminds me of the expression that just saying “Hello” to someone can change their life.  I will always remember Blair for that teachable moment and I believe we should all do our best to embody that spirit.

Samantha Mercer, B. Ed. Classmate

When I moved to St. John’s on August 23rd, I didn’t know anyone or where anything was. I was feeling very nervous on our first orientation day – all these new faces, many of whom already know each other. Through the crowd I saw a beacon, or rather a tuque, of hope. There was Blair: baggy jeans, First Offense tuque, and a No Use for a Name hoodie. I knew this guy and I were gonna be pals. I walked right up to him, complimented his shirt, and we immediately connected with our love of music.

What struck me the most about this guy was how freakin’ positive he was. Massive smile, huge eyes, and a voice that carried. I had lunch with him a few days before his passing, and those very same things still struck me about him: a massive smile, huge eyes, a big voice, and a genuine appreciation for those around him.

D’arcy Briggs, B. Ed. Classmate

I first met Blair in my undergraduate degree. We did a few French courses together and I would always see him around. His two thumbs up were a regular part of my time at Memorial! I remember seeing him at a weekend professional development event and he asked me what I was doing the following September. When we realized we were both going to be in the I/S program, we were thrilled. Again, the two thumbs up from Blair! I knew few people going into the program, so I was glad to see Blair’s familiar face on the first day.

I won’t say that Blair would have made an awesome teacher, because he was an awesome teacher. It is obvious that, through his internship, Blair developed amazing and genuine relationships with students and staff. He clearly had a huge impact on his students – he was a role model. I believe he taught his students that, if nothing else, it’s ok to just be you.

Katherine Pumphrey

Blair had an incredible ability to make other people’s ideas come alive. Blair and I helped out after school with the Drama Club and during those Friday afternoons all of my suggestions about the play we were directing became deadly, wicked, hilarious ideas when filtered through Blair. As everyone in the Drama Club quickly learned, any plan, scheme, theory or thought bounced off Blair became infused with his passion and enthusiasm. Blair taught me that we are all beautiful people—we just have to be willing to see that beauty.

Emma Collingwood, B. Ed. Classmate

From Blair’s Students at MacDonald Drive Junior High

When I walked into my Social Studies class, Mr. Tulk would brighten up the room. He was such an amazing person and he will be missed by everybody who had met him. This was a tragedy and he deserves something special. Colin Mckinnon, Grade 8 Student

Mr. Tulk was a good man who always made class more fun. He made learning new material interesting because he was so funny and we enjoyed going to class. Madison Rowe and Caroline Keats, Grade 8 Students

 Mr. Tulk was one of the most joyous teachers I’ve ever had. He genuinely cared so much about each and everyone of us. Mr Tulk put a smile on everyone’s faces and brightened everyone’s day.

Kathleen Rose, Grade 8 Student

 Mr.Tulk was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. He was half the reason why I even liked Social Studies. He was always so energetic, happy and patient. He also always came to chess club, and we always  had games. He and I had a really good bond, and I was devastated when I heard the news. .At first i couldn’t believe it, but it slowly sank in. To this day I still think about him every day.

Laxman Saravanakumar Kandaswamy, Grade 8 Student

Mr. Tulk interned at my school, MDJH this year. From day 1, I knew he was going to be an amazing teacher. He had lots of humor, and a very relaxed attitude. Yet he always knew what to say when teaching his students.  Holly Stack, Grade 8 Student

From Blair’s Colleagues at MacDonald Drive Junior High

It was the first day back after Christmas break, my Keurig machine had broken and I walked into the staffroom to meet my intern Blair. I think my mouth dropped as he bounced around and asked “How goes it?” He clearly had more energy than I did especially without my morning coffee. He was so eager to take on the junior high world.  He told the kids that he considered it a privilege to teach them and his goal was to one day be a good teacher. He was so genuine and his unique personality was an immediate hit with the students.

Blair had a tremendous work ethic always wanting to be doing something. He constantly looked for feedback and was so appreciative of any and all advice.  He was a real asset to my students and me. His enthusiasm which frightened me that first day was something I truly came to love about Blair. He loved to teach, and he was interesting to listen and talk to. His enthusiasm was always present and students listened to him just because he was interesting. And, there might be time at the end of the lesson to have a chat with Mr. Tulk.

The weeks spent working with Blair are ones I will always treasure. He made me laugh on a regular basis at least once a day.  I often sat back observing with a smile on my face, enjoying the interaction and admiring his growth as a teacher. While I am sad that his life was cut short just as he was about to embark on his teaching career, I am happy that I had the privilege of working with him and I feel lucky that my students were the ones who had the experience of having such an enthusiastic and motivating young  teacher.

Colette Quann, French Immersion Teacher

 When I first met Blair, he was a student at MDJH.  At the beginning of his internship, he introduced himself by saying, “Hi Mrs. Mills!  Do you remember me?  I was your Hamlet years ago.”  With that, I was instantly reminded of the energetic young boy who was a shoe-in for the lead in the play.  To renew my acquaintance with Blair again was a real blessing.  I’ve been teaching since 1986 and have seen lots of new teachers come and go.  They come to the profession with varying levels of commitment but few come with a true love for kids and a passion for teaching.  Blair quickly distinguished himself as that rare fine gem in our profession – someone who really wanted to make a difference and was genuinely keen about the students.

Blair taught in the classroom that backed on to mine, so I would see him each morning.  He’d always greeted me with a hearty hello and whenever I asked, “How’s it going, sir?” he would reply, “Excellent! Excellent!” and would put his two thumbs in the air.  I came to love those little exchanges.  I looked forward to them.  His infectious enthusiasm made me feel energized. I was secretly thrilled to know that someone like Blair would soon be joining the ranks.

The kids were utterly charmed by Blair.  A teenager can spot a phony a mile away, but they knew instinctively that Blair was the real deal.  He made an indelible impression on those kids in such a short while.

When the internship term ended and Easter holidays were close at hand, we were all keen to head out for our long-awaited rest.  Blair made his way around to every teacher with whom he had made a connection.  He gave me a big bear hug and thanked me.  I told him how much I loved his enthusiasm and cautioned him to never let anyone try to squash it.  I told him that he’d better come back to substitute, and he assured me he would.  I can still see him hanging around in the staff room.  It occurred to me then that he didn’t want to leave.  How sweet was that!
I met another former student and a peer of Blair’s just after the holidays.  I asked if she remembered Blair.  She did, so I gushed about how well he did during his time with us.  She was pleased to hear about him.  It was only days later that we would connect again to share our grief and shock.

I will always remember Blair’s grin that stretched a mile.  His potential was enormous, and teachers and students alike deeply felt his loss.

Edwina Mills, Teacher

 Bench & Tree Dedication Ceremony

This ceremony was held just outside the Education Building on Thursday, August 6.  In addition to a number of special guest speeches, the MacDonald Drive Teacher Interns (Emma Collingwood, Rebecca Curlew, Ashley Giles, Sam Griffin, Erin O’Leary, Alicia Taylor & Charmaine White) read a poem they had written in memory of Blair.  Here’s that poem aptly titled “Mr. Tulk” – it’s light-hearted and light-hearted is always welcomed!  I’m sure Blair approves.

First day
nervous smiles
we all agreed
Blair is wild.

Quick friendships
sharing laughs
Blair is the talk
of all the staff.

Not for his hair
or his crazy ties
but for his smile
and his wide eyes.

Recess bell
cinnamon roll
connecting with students
his ultimate goal.

Class with Blair
was never a bore;
lunchtime gifts
from the dollar store.

Students loved him,
we did too.
A teacher and friend;
kind and true.

Rocking out,
playing drums,
burger king,
air guitar strums.

Spirit week,
drama and chess
spent $60.00
on Luigi dress.

Last day of school
the halls were all bare
we were learning to teach,
while Blair was always there.

How goes it,
no worries,
thumbs up,
yes by.

By knowing you we’ve grown
this is not your end
your influence lives on
carpe diem, our friend

From Blair’s Father

“Living for Today” reflected Blair’s approach to life and his focus on the present.  His full attention was dedicated to the immediate moment; whether spending time with family/friends, playing music or learning to become an effective teacher. When he discovered his passion for teaching, Blair’s raison-d’être was simply to become the best teacher he could be.

Memorial’s Faculty of Education was a fitting community of learning for Blair’s career preparation journey. He attended every optional seminar offered by the Faculty during his enrollment in the program, including a pre-program series on teaching French. His desire to learn more about education (specifically students, curricula, teaching methodologies and schools) was reinforced by his fall placement at Holy Heart High School and his straight A record for the semester. He viewed each of his professors, without exception, as an invaluable source of knowledge, challenge and inspiration … to the extent that he had preliminary discussions about also doing his Masters at MUN.

Blair reached the summit of his teaching experience during his winter internship at Macdonald Drive Junior High. He plunged into his assignment with a mixture of awe at the responsibility and pride at the opportunity of becoming a teacher. Seeking to field-test theories in the school setting, Blair tried to plan every lesson from the perspective of the student. He became involved in activities such as drama, student council, and chess club … to strengthen his relationship with students.  He subscribed to the view that “Students will not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Our family has been shattered by Blair’s untimely passing. We continue to mourn the loss of a wonderful son and brother … we cannot envision our world without his positive presence, love, warmth and compassion. Although it may not diminish our pain, Pauline, Bradley and I have been moved by the outpouring of support from the Faculty of Education community. Blair’s fellow students, his professors and administrators continue to demonstrate that his life had a meaningful impact and that his legacy is appreciated. We cannot thank you enough for your understanding and kindness.

Sincerely,

Bert Tulk

We’re All Beautiful People  

 Editor’s Note:  This song about the concept of inclusion was composed by Blair in Dr. Chris Mattatall’s Education 4240 class (An Introduction to the Exceptional Learner) in the fall semester.  A very fitting way to conclude this special IN MEMORIAM issue.

 

You’re all beautiful people
You’re all welcome in my classroom
No matter what your differences or
exceptionalities might be.
I’m here to help you, not
put down and doubt you,
‘cause with the right teaching you can be
the best that you can be.

(Chorus)

We’re all beautiful people
You’re all welcome in my classroom
No matter what your differences or
exceptionalities might be.
I’m here to help you, not
put down and doubt you,
‘cause with the right teaching you can be
the best that you can be

We’ll change the classroom,
we’ll change our methods,
we’ll change the attitudes
that have left you out in the cold.
We’ll keep included, no stakes
excluded,

Education’s the name of the game
for everyone

We’re all beautiful people
You’re all welcome in my classroom
No matter what your differences or
exceptionalities might be.
I’m here to help you, not
put down and doubt you,
‘cause with the right teaching you can be
the best that you can be

Things will be tough,
things will get challenging,
but anything that’s important
deserves our effort and time,
There’s no one student that’s
more important than the others,
and that is why we must teach them all.

Every single student,
We’re all beautiful people
You’re all welcome in my classroom
No matter what your differences or
exceptionalities might be.
I’m here to help you, not
put down and doubt you,
‘cause with the right teaching you can be
the best that you can be.
Concluding Comment From the Editor

Thank you for reading this special IN MEMORIAM issue.

May Blair’s positive impact on all of us and his students at MacDonald Drive Junior High guide us in our daily work as teachers; let this be Blair’s legacy.

Best wishes to all – Jerome

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About themondayememo

Jerome G. Delaney, Editor Associate Professor – Educational Administration Faculty of Education Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John’s, NL Canada A1B 3X8 Telephone: 709-864-2071 Facsimile: 709-864-2345 Email: jdelaney@mun.ca
This entry was posted in special issues, Volume 09 (Winter 2015). Bookmark the permalink.

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