After teaching Business at numerous schools such as Burnaby Central High School and the majority in the Windsor Ontario area, teaching took a real change for Boots. He took a job as a Student Success Teacher within the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board. The job was designed to help students succeed who are struggling in the brick and mortar setting through experiential learning (cooperative education). But with the job starting in September, he had no students. So Boots and a colleague decided to go and find students. Fourteen years later they have found thousands. “We did almost 60 presentations in the first three years and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing.” The majority of the students are over 18 and have paid employment. Most are only short a few credits and each student has a unique story. “Some of the stories you hear can bring you to tears, it is a very humbling job. When we first started the job, it was a real eye opener.” Boots and his colleague have been featured in a British Journal for Education. “We were dubbed the ‘Coffee Shop Teachers’ in the article by the writers from the University of Windsor.” They meet most of the students in coffee shops, explain how the program works and continue to help students earn a high school diploma. “It is both humbling and very rewarding at the same time.”
During his 30 year teaching career he has also coached both cross country and track and field. Most recently, the cross country team at St. Clair College in Windsor where he is the Head Coach. The men’s team won the National Title in 2018 and Team Silver in 2019. In addition, one of his former high school runners has gone on to compete in two Olympics. “I have been blessed to do what I do. Thanks to UBC, I landed the best vocation possible for me.”
What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education?
The first. I actually did not know I wanted to be a teacher. UBC offered a program where you practice taught for three months. In Ontario, they were for only 2 week stints. Three months seemed like a true test for me and would give me a better idea if I truly wanted to be a teacher. The second occurred while I was Practice Teaching at Sir Winston Churchill High School. At the end of my teaching experience, the marketing class presented me with a gift. It was a Detroit Red Wings Jersey with the name Probert on the back. It showed that they cared about me and as I was told later, I really had a great rapport with the students. It is this rapport that has carried me into a successful and happy 32 years of an educator.
Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?
Becoming an educator has really confirmed my choice as the greatest vocation. I have been privileged to be able to teach Business for many years including being the Lead Writer for three curriculums for the Ministry of Education on Ontario. In addition to this I was fortunate to create a program geared to adults earning a High School Diploma through work experience. While doing all of this I have been able to coach both cross country and track and field for over 30 years. Through all of this he has had incredible support from his wife and son and daughter.
Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?
As an adult education teacher in the Windsor Community and a coach, inclusion of immigrants is paramount to our and their success. Learning language and work skills in the community helps immigrants become involved and eventually successful. In coaching, students are able to create friends and establish relationships with peers. This inevitably helps in their education and future employment opportunities.
Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Newly graduated folks?
Words of wisdom for future educators and new graduates would be the same – contribute outside of the classroom. For me it was coaching. There are so many ways to assist in co curricular activities. I cannot put into words the joy coaching has given me in my teaching career. Hopefully you can find something you like to contribute to the school and or the community.