by Kevin Hayward, fellow teacher and friend
Alice Vanderkooy, who has taught French at TDChristian since 1987, began her career 40 years ago at the elementary level. A decade of teaching at Timothy Christian School was followed by two years in Quebec, where she developed a deeper appreciation for French-Canadian culture and for the rich diversity of humanity—an appreciation that is still dynamically lived out in her teaching today.
As leader of the Grade 12 Quebec trip for 28 years, she has worked to help students experience real connection between people while learning about another culture through its language. A favourite quote, familiar to her students, is: “Learning another’s language is an act of love.”
While she exudes a “no-nonsense” aura to students, colleagues find Alice warm and impish, always ready for an exchange of friendly ribbing. As the end of her teaching career approaches, she offers the following advice: Treat everyone with respect; look out for those on the margins; look beyond the obvious and external; be enriched by those around you, wherever you might be; and . . . do it all in French!
Eight Fun Facts About Alice
1) Alice was part of TDChristian’s Class of 1970.
2) In high school, Alice was a member of the “Future Teachers Club”.
3) Her Grade 12 yearbook comment reads, “Each morning about 9:10, Alice bombs into French class with a cheery hello for each student. Her interests vary from boys to boys. When not working on the yearbook, her bi-focals are constantly focused on English, German, French, or Latin books.”
4) Over the years, Alice has taught French, Typing, Math, History, Bible, Careers, Civics, Smart Skills, and Peer Counselling, and has also been a Guidance counsellor.
5) In recent years, Alice has found herself teaching many of the children of her former students.
6) When asked what she will miss, Alice responded, “I will miss energizing conversations with colleagues about education and life or silly nothings. I will miss watching and being part of the lives of students as they move from Grade 9 to Grade 12. So many joys and challenges are a part of those four years. It has been a privilege to witness and contribute to that. I will really miss teaching the beauty of the French language and culture, but plan to continue to use and enjoy French on a personal level. I am thinking of starting a French conversation group. Anyone interested in joining me?”
7) Alice has enrolled for a course in the fall entitled “Inscape: Imagining, Dreaming, Creating”. It’s taught by Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson, among others, in the village of St. Martin’s on the Bay of Fundy. It begins with the premise that “creativity is fundamentally a spiritual process.” It will be an opportunity to explore life apart from teaching.
8) In her free time, you’ll find Alice biking, gardening, cooking, or reading