More than 50 years after they met, Dixie Simon and Barb Barnes enjoyed a reunion with their Grade 1 and 2 teacher, Mary Mawson (née Tibolt), last week, when they had lunch at Dairy Queen on July 22.
For both Simon and Barnes, Mawson was their first and most memorable teacher, whom they met when they entered Grade 1 in 1959.
“I would always talk about my Grade 1 teacher,” said Barnes. “I didn’t want to go to school. … She took me under her wing and I just loved it. That start made a big difference in who I became.”
Simon agreed, and added that she appreciated the structure provided in Mawson’s classroom, far different from what she wanted at the time.
“I would rather stay home with my family and play with the animals,” said Simon.
When Simon and Barnes entered Grade 2, Mawson became the Grade 2 teacher at the former Creston Elementary School (now Adam Robertson Elementary School), and they enjoyed a second year with her as their teacher. The pair graduated in 1971, and didn’t see each other until their 30-year reunion in 2001.
Simon went on to work with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Penticton until 1997, then returned to Creston, where she has worked as a School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) custodian since 1998.
Barnes works at the University of Calgary, where she is a professor with a PhD in interdisciplinary studies (psychology, sociology, history and education), and is also a counsellor for troubled youth.
The pair’s success in life came as no surprise to Mawson, who retired in 2002 and is now a teacher on call.
“I could tell they were going to be excellent citizens,” said Mawson. “They were very accommodating, they were eager, they were sincere and very co-operative. They were always willing to help others.”
She is glad to see that both former students tuned out well, and is pleased that they still keep in touch.
“It gives me personal satisfaction,” she said. “When I know I had something to do with it, it almost feels like I climbed Mount Everest.”