The best of both worlds. That was what Annette Huber was able to offer her children, all six of them, while she combined a busy family life with her teaching career. In Annette’s early years as a teacher at the Peace School of Hope, she often involved her own children in school activities with her handicapped students. In doing so, she gave them a glimpse into life at the segregated school and the opportunity to interact with the handicapped in a time when such interaction was not commonplace.
I’ve often thought how fortunate we were to have that experience with those children.
Prior to working at the Peace School, Annette had worked as a teacher in the Teepee Creek School. After a time away from teaching, she resumed her career at the Peace School. Annette’s licence had lapsed in the meantime, so she worked to re-certify along with the other teachers in the school who were upgrading to gain certification.
Annette taught at the School of Hope for seven years, with Iris Pollock as the Principal. She was involved in the school’s move to a wing at Montrose Junior High School. Annette is in favour of integration of the disabled into the regular school system, but not in all cases.
I think for some children it’s very good because it certainly gives them a chance to act like the other children. They copy what the others are doing and it really is a good thing. But there are some children who just can’t do that and I think they should have their own space where they are treated in accordance.
Teaching at the Peace School of Hope was the first time Annette worked professionally with the disabled. She taught the core subjects; math, spelling and writing. She found that the classrooms for the disabled had many similarities to regular classrooms in the public system. A range of parental attitudes was always a factor to deal with in planning and implementing programs for the children.
Annette describes her experience as a teacher for the Peace School of Hope as rewarding and she fondly remembers students such as Barry Ferguson, Dale McQuaig, Dale Edgar, Zelda Fraser, and Bill Hartle. Field trips with the students included visits to the Liever’s farm in Beaverlodge and bowling at Lloyd Olley’s bowling alley.
In its early years of operation, the Peace School of Hope was under the direction of the Association for Retarded Children. Over Annette’s time with the school, the name of the organization changed to the Association for the Mentally Retarded and then to the Association for the Mentally Handicapped. Annette was happy to see an alternative to the use of the name “retarded.”
I’m glad that they changed it. For the ones that have a conception of their problem, it’s not fair to them to be labeled.
Of the many challenges Annette faced in her work with the disabled, feeling sorry for the students was one of the most important to overcome.
You couldn’t feel sorry for them. That was my problem to start with. I felt so sorry for them. But once you overcame that and realized that they were ordinary people with a few difficulties, it was much easier.
Annette notices that these days there is more acceptance of the disabled in the community and once in a while, when she happens to meet a former student living a productive life as an adult, she is reminded of just how much attitudes have changed.