Love and ed­u­ca­tion

Car­bon­ear cou­ple re­tires to­gether af­ter long ca­reers as teach­ers


Even af­ter 30 years of mar­riage, Ron­ald and Janet Buck­les’s eyes still light up when they see each other.

The Car­bon­ear na­tives, who were high school sweet­hearts, still have a strong com­mit­ment to each other, and just as strong a com­mit­ment to their pro­fes­sion — teach­ing.

Ev­ery week­day morn­ing for the past five years the Buck­les have made the half-hour trip from their home in Car­bon­ear to Green’s Har­bour, but that is about to change. Their sit­u­a­tion is unique. Both teach­ers will re­tire at the same time and from the same school, Acre­man El­e­men­tary, later this month.

A Grade 1 teacher, Janet says it will be dif­fi­cult get­ting up ev­ery­day and not head­ing to work.

“This life­style is in­grained in me,” she smiles.

Ron­ald, a Grade 3 teacher, is go­ing to keep him­self busy with a one-per­son handy­man busi­ness.

The cou­ple shared their story dur­ing a wide rang­ing in­ter­view in the school li­brary. There’s no hid­ing their deep con­nec­tion to one an­other as they fin­ish each other’s sen­tences, glance lov­ingly into the other’s eyes or place a hand on the other’s arm when shar­ing an anec­dote.

Ca­reer be­gin­nings

In 1982, af­ter five years at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity, Janet and Ron­ald were of­fered full-time teach­ing po­si­tions — Ron­ald in La Poile on the south­west coast of New­found­land and Janet in McCal­lum, on the south coast.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fer­ries, iso­lated com­mu­ni­ties and no ve­hi­cles or roads for the first time on their own was a rough ven­ture.

The next sum­mer they got mar­ried, and planned to work closer to­gether.

Their wish came true when a sec­ond teach­ing po­si­tion be­came avail­able in La Poile, and Janet got the job.

An ob­sta­cle pre­sented it­self a month be­fore the school year be­gan when they were no­ti­fied the house they were go­ing to rent was sold. They could not give up their po­si­tions, so they de­cided to do some­thing a lit­tle un­usual — buy a travel trailer.

The trailer was shipped by a freight boat and was left on the wharf for when the cou­ple ar­rived. It be­came a spec­ta­cle for the town since it was a rare event to have a trailer ar­rive on the wharf, and no ve­hi­cles to tow it.

Tak­ing it from the wharf be­came an event for mem­bers of the com­mu­nity, and Ron­ald turned it into a game.

“I went to the lo­cal store and I came out with two dozen beer,” he smirks. “I said ‘where I put this beer is where I want the trailer. Who­ever brings the trailer to me can have all the beer.’”

The trailer, just 18 feet long, was brought to a lo­ca­tion next to the school, and be­came their home for the next three-and-a-half years. But it was not with­out its mod­ern con­ve­niences. It con­tained a washer and dryer, though when the dryer was in op­er­a­tion, the elec­tric heat would shut off.

Com­mu­nity and school

Janet and Ron­ald have taught at sev­eral dif­fer­ent schools in nu­mer­ous com­mu­ni­ties over the years, in­clud­ing La Poile, Grand le Pierre and Monkstown, to name a few.

They have been wel­comed with open arms in ev­ery lo­ca­tion, they say.

Dur­ing his four years in Monkstown on the Burin Penin­sula, Ron­ald acted as a “self-charge” teach­ing prin­ci­pal at a tiny school where the high­est en­rol­ment reached just six pupils. When en­rol­ment dropped to just one stu­dent, the school closed and Ron was out of a job, at least tem­po­rar­ily. He was later of­fered a job in Grand Le Pierre, where Janet was teach­ing.

Janet says dur­ing the years Ron taught in Monkstown she never had to pack him a lunch be­cause res­i­dents would al­ways in­vite him in for meals.

The com­mu­ni­ties have been good to the Buck­les, but they have also re­turned the sup­port.

“We of­ten at­tend our stu­dent dances and mu­sic recitals, fig­ure skat­ing shows and hockey tour­na­ments,” Janet says. “The par­ents and stu­dents ap­pre­ci­ate us shar­ing our week­ends with them.”

A re­cy­cling pro­gram at school is also one of their big pas­sions.

On June 6, the school hosted a din­ner in hon­our of the cou­ple’s con­tri­bu­tions to Acre­man El­e­men­tary, some­thing that has never been done be­fore.

“Usu­ally the school gives those re­tir­ing a gift,” Ron­ald says. “This was def­i­nitely a sur­prise.”

Mov­ing home

Al­though Ron­ald and Janet have been each other’s sup­port sys­tem through­out their many years to­gether, they say they are “blessed” to have sup­port from their par­ents — Wil­liam and Eileen Dwyer and Reuben and Mary Buckle.

Their par­ents still live in Car­bon­ear in their own homes and are a big rea­son why the cou­ple moved home in 2008.

“Our par­ents were get­ting older, and we wanted to be there for them,” Janet says.

Their par­ents have been the back­bone to their suc­cess, she con­tin­ues.

For sev­eral years, the cou­ple tried to get jobs on the Avalon Penin­sula to move closer to their par­ents.

“The way we looked at it, we came as a pack­age deal,” says Ron. “All or none.”

Af­ter three years of look­ing, they ap­plied for po­si­tions at Acre­man El­e­men­tary.

“They didn’t have it easy,” Ron­ald’s mother, Mary, says.

She tells a story about when Ron­ald was in Grade 7 and the school he was at­tend­ing tried to put him in a “spe­cial needs class.”

She dis­agreed he needed ex­tra help be­cause he al­ways had great marks in school, so she had him trans­ferred.

“If I hadn’t stood up for him then I don’t know where he’d be now,” she says.

Janet also cred­its Ron­ald with her suc­cess.

“I don’t think I would have done so well with­out his love and sup­port,” she says. “He’s like my right arm.”

Janet and Ron­ald will be tak­ing some time to them­selves be­fore they em­bark upon their next ad­ven­tures.

They have not de­cided where th­ese ad­ven­tures will take them yet, but both say it is likely to be an in­ter­est­ing and ex­cit­ing jour­ney.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/Spe­cial to The Com­pass

The hus­band and wife team of Ron­ald (left) and Janet Buckle will re­tire to­gether from teach­ing at the end of this month. They spent the past five years at Acre­man El­e­men­tary in Green’s Har­bour.

Ron­ald Buckle says he has been very blessed to have his par­ents Reuben (right) and Mary Buckle as such a driv­ing force be­hind his suc­cess.

Wil­liam(left) and Eileen Dwyer have given huge sup­port and en­cour­age­ment to their daugh­ter, Janet Buckle. She says they are the back­bone to her suc­cess.

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