With almost 75 years of combined teaching experience at SMUS, we wish Jim de Goede, Lisa Hyde-Lay and Lindy Van Alstine a fond farewell. Jim and Lindy are retiring, while Lisa will go on to pursue her real estate career. The excerpts below are from speeches delivered at the staff recognition dinner in May.
Mr. Jim de Goede
by Nancy Mollenhauer
There were more than just a few people on the Middle School staff who were a little – how do I say this delicately? – scared, when Jim showed up to teach 21 short years ago. Large in stature and with that big, booming voice, who wouldn’t be a little intimidated? It didn’t take long for us to figure out that despite the tough exterior, he was just a big, soft teddy bear inside. Now, don’t get me wrong, the not-so-soft Jim came to the forefront on more than a few occasions. It was always with good reason and in a very short time we recognized that this was indeed a very special man and we were lucky to call him one of ours!
Whether it was in the classroom on the third floor (corner suite I might add) teaching the Medieval Ages to his Social Studies 8 class, playing Jeopardy with his Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) class, training his students in the Great Canadian Geography Challenge, or arguing the finer points of a good debate with his Com Skills students, Jim always put the kids first. This is just one of the many things I admire about him: his dedication to the students and the passion he brought to the classroom.
When not in his classroom, Jim could be found on the soccer pitch where, for 19 seasons, he coached our U15 girls CAIS soccer team. After “retiring” from coaching U15 girls soccer, Jim continued to share his knowledge and love of the game by helping as the goal keeping coach for our Senior School girls’ team. His words of encouragement from the sidelines will be sorely missed… and always remembered!
“Jim always put the kids first. This is just one of the many things I admire about him: his dedication to the students and the passion he brought to the classroom.”
Family has always been, and will always be very important to Jim. His two wonderful daughters, Andrea and Olivia, both graduated from SMUS and you only have to ask him how they are doing to see his smile stretch from ear to ear. He is one proud papa! And then of course, there is his partner in crime for the last 20 years, Sherry. How lovely for them to be heading down this new path in life together, filled with continuous love and perhaps a few adventures thrown in there to keep things interesting. It is hard to say goodbye to you Jimmy, so let’s not. It’ll be “so long for now” with love, heartfelt wishes and all of the very best that life has to offer.
Mrs. Lisa Hyde-Lay
by George Floyd
Twenty-six years at SMUS. For some here, that’s an entire lifespan. For others, 26 sounds like a life sentence with time off for good behavior. In truth, I suspect it’s a bit of both with a good measure of hard work, laughter and tears thrown in. For those of us lucky enough to have worked with Lisa over those years, it’s been an absolute joy.
If Sting were here, he might say “every little thing she does is magic.” Lisa always brought a special, practical magic to work and life at SMUS. I suspect that one source of that magic comes from some unique childhood experiences.
Picture a little blond Lisa perched inside a floatplane high above the Discovery Islands off Campbell River. She’s peering intently out the window, watching the world below go by as the family heads off to adventure at some hidden cove. Growing up near – and playing in – Strathcona Park fueled Lisa’s passion for the environment and the outdoors. She’s shared that passion with students, colleagues, friends, and the greatest loves of her life: Graeme, Derek and Ian.
Beginning in 1991, Lisa taught Science to half of the Middle School, Computer Programming to all Grade 6 students and took on extra-curricular coaching. Not long after that she joined boarding in Timmis, sometimes tending to 40+ girls with her trusty partners Kathleen Cook and Lindy Van Alstine. “The Three Helgas” (as they were known) were a power team that guided and guarded the flock. More laughs, tears and late nights were in store. Not busy enough, she later took on Senior House parenting, serving for 14 years in boarding until the time came to focus more on home and garden (her other great passions).
“Lisa always brought a special, practical magic to work and life at SMUS.”
Lisa is imaginative, thorough and never content to repeat the journey the exact same way. She always revised and polished lessons, conscious of the destination for her students. She wanted to fine-tune their experiences. This is the classic model of a student-centered educator.
Lisa also spent decades coaching, including girls’ and boys’ basketball. She developed and promoted the now successful city night league basketball program as well. If she wasn’t busy enough with students and boarding, she spent well over 15 years working on behalf of the school and her colleagues through our faculty association executive.
Lisa has taken on a lead staff role in each production, whether it’s props, set or coordinating costumes. She’s recruited and run an efficient team of staff and parents to design, assemble, and then wrangle a cast of well over 100 kids into costumes for each successful show.
In sports, there are star players who lift the game for everyone on the team. When you’re down, they talk you up, when you’re up they keep you focused. Through encouragement, dedication, skill, and effort, that type of player leads from within, giving the best and getting the best from her teammates. Lisa has always been that teammate for us.
We offer our love and thanks to Lisa for everything she’s done for us. Rod Stewart wasn’t available tonight, but if he were he might say: “Nobody does it better, makes us feel sad for the rest, nobody does it quite the way you do. Baby… you’re the best.”
Ms. Lindy Van Alstine
by Dariol Haydock
A few years ago, several faculty members headed up to Parksville for one of Bob Snowden’s August retreats. It was a year when Bob extended an open invitation to staff and there was quite a gang of us. One of the strongest memories I have from that weekend is a long, in-depth conversation with Pete McLeod about servant leadership. It was the first time that I had heard this term. Robert K. Greenleaf says: “The servant leader is servant first, it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first.”
As soon as I heard this definition, I thought: Lindy. She’s always serving others first and contributing in a quiet and humble way.
Some people, day in and day out, just do for others. They anticipate need and because they believe so passionately in our shared purpose, no job is too big or too small. Whether it’s opening the school at 5:30 a.m., unloading the dishwasher, buying a book for a new staff baby, or quietly putting a Lindt chocolate on your desk when the day is hard, this is what Lindy does. She is our chief cook, counsellor, bottle washer, bartender, social convener and head cheerleader in the Department of Positivity.
I am not quite sure how we will manage without her.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with an alumnus who was visiting from Queens. When I told him that Lindy was retiring, he said “Wow. What will the Middle School do without her? I still remember when I was chosen to be a prefect, the first congratulatory email I received was from Ms. Van. Even four years on from Middle School she still called me one of her ‘treasures.’ To me, teachers like Ms. Van are what make SMUS great. She remembered me.”
“Some people, day in and day out, just do for others. They anticipate need and because they believe so passionately in our shared purpose, no job is too big or too small. That is Lindy.”
For 26 years, Lindy has modelled leading from the heart for children and – dare I say – some of us adults. Whether she is coaching volleyball, leading the Christmas hamper drive, working with the U15 girls’ soccer team, lining up peanut butter jars in the lower hallway for donation, or donning her goggles and lab coat to dissect a sheep’s heart, Lindy shows children that they are listened to, cared about, valued and always capable of picking themselves up after a fall. She just believes that children are worthy of such extraordinary care.
As well as Lindy’s passion for service, she is deeply committed to giving children opportunities to experience the arts. At the close of the Middle School run of Willy Wonka about a month ago, I took a moment backstage to watch Lindy in all her glory as the show’s producer. Perched on her high-back stool, dressed in signature black, headset poised, Lindy positively beamed at the hordes of unruly Oompa Loompas rushing to stage left. She was nonplussed by the squirrels with nut issues who were held captive in the upper mezzanine, and she truly seemed to be the only adult backstage who wasn’t secretly joyful that YES, this was the last night of the Middle School run!
In all seriousness, Lindy has been the producer of seven Middle School productions working with Douglas Manson Blair, Ian Farish and Duncan Frater to produce AFRIKA, Will Power, The King of Elfland’s Daughter, Oliver, Annie, The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka. Lindy has been at the centre of these productions and shared her love of theatre with hundreds of children.
When I asked Lindy what she would miss most about this SMUS world, she said: all of us. Her colleagues, the family that she’s chosen. Families are forever and we wish you all the best in your retirement.
(photo by Kent Leahy-Trill)