so long anne

by underswansea

IMG_2111.jpgPhoto from the 1969, David Thompson Secondary School yearbook.

I was sad to hear of the passing of Anne Picton. Mrs. Picton was a teacher for many years at David Thompson Secondary School. She was firm and fair.

Mrs. Picton taught English to hundreds of valley high school students. I was one. I had her for my last year of English. It was a very difficult class for me. Most of my friends had already dropped out of school to join the work force.

This was common during the 70’s and early 80’s as there wasn’t much incentive for teachers to put up with any students but the easiest to teach. Logging jobs were plentiful and well paying at the time so many students chose to go to work early.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was still doing in school. I was barely hanging on. I remember, Mrs. Picton debating me on the meaning of the Beatles lyrics, A Day in the Life. She was probably tired of another student picking rock and roll lyrics for their dissertation of fine poetry. At my early age I was yet to succumb to the elegance of JA Prufrock and TS Eliot.

As it turned out I returned to the popular song and realized there was much more than what I first heard. I wondered if it was because she was originally from England.

Somehow, I made it through and graduated.

My wife Lisa also had Mrs. Picton as a teacher. Unlike me, Lisa was a very good student, winning many academic awards.

In Grade 8 Lisa had a French teacher who would only speak rapid fire French in the classroom. You never saw a more bewildered bunch of students. He would even talk faster and get annoyed when they couldn’t understand.

Luckily for the students, and in pure teacher union fashion, he took plenty of days off, and when he did, Mrs. Picton filled in. Lisa said it was like a light turning on when Mrs. Picton taught French.

Even though Mrs. Picton was only there a few days a month she made the difference for Lisa and many others in the class.

Teachers aren’t heroes, as many like to be portrayed. In my experience, as a student, parent and working in the school system, most are adequate, with many being far less so.

Wonderful teachers are few and far between. Anne Picton was a wonderful teacher.

After Anne retired she became active in the community, volunteering at the Royal Canadian Legion and her hometown of Windermere.

Mrs. Picton proofread at the Columbia Valley Pioneer while I was editor. She would say, “You can’t say it that way, Bob.”

I would say, ‘Yes I can, Anne.”

I would explain I wanted it heard in our Kootenay dialect. Anne would inform me, I was making it tough for the reader, and the message would be lost, because we read in English.

She was still teaching long after retirement.

Anne Picton leaves a void in our community, among her family, friends, colleagues and many past students.