When Jim Kerr (BEd ’93, MEd ’99) gave up playing hockey for the University of Lethbridge to focus on his studies in the Faculty of Education, it didn’t occur to him that the two passions he was choosing between could ever converge again. Over time, however, the math teacher and vice principal noticed a trend towards specialized school programming. “The Vauxhall Baseball Academy started as a way to keep the school dynamic,” he states as one example. “What an impact on that school and community.”
Kerr began to imagine possibilities for a hockey skills development program, but it wasn’t until he moved to Gilbert Paterson Middle School in Lethbridge that he pursued the idea. “I presented it as something that was going to add another element to our school and offer something to a group of students that isn’t offered now,” he states. After one year of operation the Paterson Hockey Development program is a huge success. “Enrollment for next year has almost doubled,” says Kerr.
The opportunity to pass his passion for hockey on to students has enriched Kerr’s career. “It’s really renewed my love of the teaching profession.” The students are benefitting too. “They’re staying caught up with their work and we haven’t had issues with their behaviour because they know it’s all hinging on their participation in the program,” says Kerr. “In education today we want to keep kids motivated. We want to keep them in our schools. There’s probably more student mobility now than there’s ever been because of choices to attend different schools that offer different things.”
Kerr believes the timing has never been better for teachers to incorporate their passions into their work. He encourages them to talk about their interests. “Bounce ideas around. Put a plan together. That’s something we, as administrators, would love to hear about.”