Iris Pollock had a vision for the education of children with disabilities and was a leading force with the Association for Retarded Children in the Peace Region. Her efforts set the tone for the mission that has been adopted by the Association to this day.
Iris’s first contact with the Peace School of Hope was through volunteer work with the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Associated Canadian Travelers (ACT). The club was an avid supporter of the handicapped, generously donating vans and wheelchairs in addition to supporting Peace Area Riding for the Disabled Society (PARDS) and Camp Tamarack.
Iris held several positions at the Peace School in over a decade of involvement. She started in 1959 as a substitute teacher and then spent two years as Vice Principal. When she finally took over as Principal, she was well versed in the issues concerning the students and took it upon herself to develop an environment in which the students, many of whom were without their families, could thrive.
Iris’s primary goal was to involve the children in situations that could widen their knowledge and experience. One of her greatest achievements was to get the kids involved in the Summer Games.
Eva Scott was a teacher in the school and admired Iris as Principal. “She took such pride in the school and everything about it. It was her joy and her passion.”
Hazel Pollock, Iris’s daughter-in-law, was also recruited by Iris to teach at the school. She remembers Iris as a warm, loving and understanding person who had the ability to draw the best out of the staff and students alike. Iris and Hazel were known to the students as “Big Pollock and Little Pollock.”
The Beta Sigma Phi Sorority of Grande Prairie awarded Mrs. Pollock Grande Prairie’s first-ever “Lady of the Year” award in the 1970s. She was nominated by the ACT Ladies’ Auxiliary in recognition of her work at the Peace School of Hope.
The Association has established the “Iris Pollock Memorial Scholarship” which is awarded to students who are entering into the field of Rehabilitation and intending to work in this field in Northwest Alberta upon graduation.
Lorne MacLeod, former Peace School Principal, remembers that Iris had the ability to meet the needs of the school by doing whatever she could to make improvements possible. “If they were short of money, she would go and find money. If they were looking for some entertainment, she would find entertainers. She had an amazing ability to get done what needed to be done.”
If something had to be done, Iris would just get it done. It didn’t matter what it took, who she had to talk to. She had it in her mind that it was going to happen and it would happen.
The remarkable impact Iris made on the state of education for persons with disabilities happened despite the fact that she had no training as a teacher or as an administrator. As Lorne McLeod, puts it, “She just did it out of the will of her personality.”