Every year, we are honoured to recognize members of the SMUS community as they retire and take on new adventures. Read the 2019 Retirees series to learn more about their outstanding contributions to the school. In this story, we recognize Dorothy Hawes, former Senior School teacher.
The instant Dorothy Hawes obtained her teachers’ certificate, she applied to St. Michaels University School.
“It was my dream school…it’s any teacher’s dream destination job,” she says.
Dorothy earned a double degree in English and German from the University of Victoria, a Masters in Germanic Studies from Queens University (on scholarship) and a pedagogy certificate (AVCM) for piano from the Victoria Conservatory of Music. She returned to the University of Victoria to earn her teachers’ certificate because she was “ready for another challenge.” Dorothy had been teaching piano from her home, but it proved too isolating for this “very social person.”
The first time SMUS called, however, Dorothy had to pass. The timing coincided with the birth of her first child. “I couldn’t believe I had to say no to SMUS!” she says with a laugh. Fortunately for her and the school, they called back a few months later. Within the year, Dorothy had joined the SMUS community, teaching German part-time. Driven, positive and passionate, she immersed herself in “the culture of independent school life.”
After the first year, Dorothy joined the English Department. Over her 27-year relationship and career with SMUS, both as a teacher and as a parent, she embraced every opportunity to “hone her craft, well-supported by the school with students who are motivated and want to learn.” Engaged in the evolution of the school, Dorothy was instrumental in the growth of the Service Council and the cultivation of a culture of volunteering in the local and global community with service days, projects and trips. “The big trips used to be for sports, but now it’s the service trips, to Africa to build a well, or Puerto Rico to build a school, for example.”
She regularly contributed to chapel with her music and also rekindled interest and participation in the Recitation Evenings. For many years, Dorothy worked with students to produce the grad fashion show fundraiser which was also supported by the Fine Arts department; this well-attended event often featured original student designs, photography, music and dance. Dorothy was also initiated and supported Teens Growing in Faith (TGIF). Her commitment to SMUS is only surpassed by a distinct zeal and energy. She shares, “talking about all this just gets me going!”
During her career at SMUS, one critical development was the recognition that not only do people learn differently, but that some individuals require solid additional support to realize their success. “Every student is different and unique and learns in a different way – that’s been part of my mantra since the beginning.” In her class, students could communicate their understanding of Hamlet by building an Elizabethan set, creating Ophelia’s diary or writing a character’s journal.
From student-led project-based learning to a thriving Learning Resource Centre, Dorothy believes that SMUS effectively supports individual needs and passions. “It’s not just about what a student is good at,” she says, “it’s also about what they really love.”
Over her years with SMUS, Dorothy shares that she learned so many things and was really well-supported by colleagues and mentors such as Colin Skinner, Terence Young and Robert Common, to name a few. Twice recipient of the professional development award, she cherishes the curiosity and desire to learn and engage that SMUS students, faculty and administrative staff all embraced. “It was also a really safe environment for kids to thrive in,” she reflects.
Moving forward, Dorothy’s sights are set on writing, revisiting manuscripts and dedicating more time to her work with the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and other organizations. When she reflects on her time at SMUS, as well as her children’s, colleagues’ and students’, she shares, “I was blessed. Truly blessed with my time.”