No one taught Dalyce Hutchinson how to retire. But after teaching kindergarten to hundreds of students over thirty-six joyous years, the adored Simcoe Country District School Board (SCDSB) teacher decided this spring to pursue the subject, unequivocal that the time was right to leave the profession which began for her with encouragement from a celebrated Canadian.
Although her last official day at W.R. Best Memorial elementary school was June 29, Hutchinson said good-bye to friends and numerous students, past and present, with their families at a wonderful party held on June 22 for her and two other retiring educators. Originally hired by then principal and now Oro Township Mayor Harry Hughes, she first taught at Guthrie Public School, then later Oakley Park and West Bayfield Elementary, before landing at W.R. Best Memorial.
Retiring didn’t come easily for Oro Township born Hutchinson who actually qualified for retirement six years ago. “Although I’ve enjoyed every year, I knew it was time to step aside and allow new teachers to experience the pleasure I’ve had,” she said.
Hutchinson has even had the rare delight of teaching offspring of twelve former students. Laughed Hutchinson, “It’s always mixed emotions when a former student brings their child in on the first day of school. I’m always excited to meet them, but I have to shake my head because the time has gone by so quickly.”
While many can be thankful that Hutchinson chose teaching, it wasn’t her first interest. At age 15 she was a Candy Striper at the former Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie. As the daughter of Alberta Slessor, a nurse at that hospital for twenty years before taking instrumental steps toward the forming of the Victoria Village long-term care facility, she naturally considered nursing. “It’s a noble profession which I admire very much. But I determined after being a Candy Striper that it wasn’t for me.” After helping at a church camp in Huntsville the following summer, she was later encouraged by her future mother-in-law and pastor to consider teaching. Unconceivable, she would soon be inspired first-hand by an incredible gentleman many know fondly only by name.
Hutchinson enrolled at the University of Guelph where she majored in Child Studies. Three of her courses were taught by Robert Munsch, who went on to famously write children’s books and music for which he received many awards and honours including the Order of Canada and a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. “He and I really connected,” added Hutchinson, “and he reinforced that I should work with children.”
“She is an amazing teacher,” said long-standing SCDSB teacher David Heidman. “If you’ve had the fortunate experience of being taught by her or teaching with her, you no doubt have learned a great deal.”
Like other summers, Dalyce Hutchinson will continue play the piano and volunteer at her church. She’s already planning ahead to help again with the Oro Fair this fall. However, afterwards, she intends to take a trip to a determined destination with her three sisters. Hutchinson reflected, “It’s been a pleasure to work at a job I was meant to do.”
By Ted Scaldwell