Hazel Pollock was invited by her future mother- in-law, Iris Pollock, to join the staff at the Peace School of Hope. She started teaching Kindergarten and Phys Ed at the Peace School in 1968. Students used to call Iris and Hazel “Big Pollock and Little Pollock.”
When I started at the Peace School of Hope I taught Kindergarten and Phys Ed. And when I got those little ones to learn something, they never forgot it, absolutely never forgot it. They have memories like you wouldn’t believe. And just lovable. I wanted to take them all home.
“It was a very physical type of teaching. You had to communicate with the kids lots of times by hugging.” Despite the intensity of the relationships with the students, Hazel was not overwhelmed. She used to drop in to visit at the school before she was ever hired on as a teacher, so had a very good idea what to expect. Hazel loved the work because it made her feel like she was helping.
Hazel remembers that Iris had the school running so smoothly that it didn’t even seem like a job to her. Iris had no special training in education or working with the handicapped but Hazel says she just didn’t need it. She relied on her experience, her talent and the love of the job.
Iris’ vision had an influence on the school’s atmosphere and it is a vision that has been maintained throughout the years. The “homey” atmosphere she preferred is very beneficial to the kids. “The parents knew the kids were well looked after.”
Hazel was involved with training the first class of students for the first Special Olympics in Red Deer in 1971. She spent many hours and weekends preparing them for their track and field events. She was disappointed when she couldn’t accompany them to the meet, but was extremely proud when they brought back many ribbons.
Hazel views the move to the public school system as a good one. She sees that the handicapped students at Crystal Park School are accepted and that their handicaps are barely noticed any more. In the Peace School of Hope days, groups of students would be stared at when they went on outings.
Hazel is happy for the change in attitude toward the handicapped but says that integrated classrooms cannot provide the special atmosphere the students enjoyed when they attended the Peace School. The teachers just can’t devote the same type of attention to them. At the Peace School of Hope the kids could relax and be themselves. “They were just them.”