Call­ing it a ca­reer

Two prin­ci­pals in Bac­calieu Col­le­giate school sys­tem say­ing ‘so long’

The Compass - - Front Page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

For the last day of school for students, Bac­calieu Col­le­giate prin­ci­pal Roger Gilling­ham has a rou­tine of sorts.

“Times like this, you’ll go out and give the buses a thumbs up to let them know that ev­ery­one is out­side of the build­ing, be­cause it’s not like a reg­u­lar day when kids are heading out af­ter home­room,” he told The Compass last Thurs­day. “There’s some hanging around, chat­ting with their teach­ers and so on. So, I went out (Thurs­day) and gave the buses a thumbs up and I said, ‘Jeez. That’s the last time I’m go­ing to be do­ing that.’

“That’s the kind of stuff that makes you think a lit­tle bit. So yes, that’s makes it feel a lit­tle more real I sup­pose.”

Gilling­ham was re­fer­ring to the fact last week marked the end of a 30-year ca­reer in ed­u­ca­tion. And he’s not the only school ad­min­is­tra­tor in the Bac­calieu Col­le­giate sys­tem say­ing so long. Ger­ard Mur­phy, prin­ci­pal at Cabot Academy in Western Bay, cleared his desk last week af­ter 35 years in the field.

“For me, it’s been very re­ward­ing,” Mur­phy told The Compass, seated in his of­fice last Thurs­day. “I don’t re­gret one mo­ment of it. Even as I exit the pro­fes­sion now, I’m do­ing so with a tinge of mixed emo­tions. Thirty-five years in a pro­fes­sion that you par­tic­u­larly en­joy and feel that you’re making a con­tri­bu­tion, and in many ways it de­fines you as an in­di­vid­ual. For me, it’s not nec­es­sar­ily a day to shout ‘Hooray.’ Af­ter a lot of re­flec­tion, the time had sim­ply come.”

Mur­phy spent 20 years at Cabot Academy and be­fore that was prin­ci­pal at Cor­pus Christi Ele­men­tary in North­ern Bay for eight years. Prior to com­ing to Old Per­li­can, Gilling­ham taught lo­cally at schools in Heart’s Con­tent, New Har­bour and North­ern Bay.

“The time I’ve spent here, I’ve thor­oughly en­joyed it,” Mur­phy said of his days at the Western Bay school.

He’s reached a point in his ca­reer where some students in the hall­ways rep­re­sent the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of North Shore kids he’s en­coun­tered.

“I am teach­ing the chil­dren of chil­dren I’ve taught, so I have a gen­er­a­tion out there of grand­par­ents whom I’ve taught their chil­dren and am teach­ing their grand­chil­dren.”

“We’re very proud of our school, and it’s a sense of pride that comes from know­ing that ev­ery­body in­volved has worked hard to put us where we are.”

Roger Gilling­ham

End of an era

The loss of Gilling­ham is note­wor­thy for Bac­calieu Col­le­giate — he’s the only prin­ci­pal in the school’s 15-year his­tory. In last week’s end-of-year as­sem­blies for ju­nior and se­nior high students, he thanked students, staff, and the school com­mu­nity at large for all they’ve done over the years.

“We’re very proud of our school, and it’s a sense of pride that comes from know­ing that ev­ery­body in­volved has worked hard to put us where we are. We’ve got a very good school in terms of aca­demics and be­hav­iour.”

Gilling­ham also cred­its the peo­ple from out­side the school who’ve been more than will­ing to sup­port it over the years.

“We’ve been very, very lucky, very for­tu­nate, to have built what I con­sider to be a re­ally good com­mu­nity school. Even though we cover a large area and lots of dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties have chil­dren com­ing here, I still look at us as a solid com­mu­nity school, and I’m very proud of the ac­com­plish­ments that we’ve made over the years. And it comes as a re­sult of the hard work of ev­ery­body in­volved.”

Asked about his post-re­tire­ment plans, Gilling­ham ad­mits he doesn’t in­tend to com­pletely walk away from the work­ing life, though he’d like to avoid the Mon­day-through-Fri­day, nine-to-five rou­tine.

“I love snow­mo­bil­ing in the win­ter time and hunt­ing and salmon fish­ing is cer­tainly a sum­mer­time ac­tiv­ity,” said Gilling­ham, who still lives in his home­town of Ochre Pit Cove.

Gilling­ham has been a mem­ber of the North Shore Re­gional Fire Depart­ment for al­most as long as his teach­ing ca­reer, and he re­cently came on board as a vol­un­teer with the lo­cal har­bour author­ity. He also vol­un­teers with his lo­cal church and the Cana­dian Tire Jumps­tart pro­gram

Mur­phy too doesn’t in­tend to sim­ply dis­ap­pear into re­tire­ment.

“I still in­tend to be pro­duc­tive in some fash­ion,” he said.

He’s served as mayor of his home­town of Bay de Verde for 18 of his 20 years on coun­cil. Though Mur­phy hasn’t made a fi­nal de­ci­sion on run­ning again in the fall gen­eral elec­tion, he’s not rul­ing it out.

“It’s not off the ta­ble,” he said. “I still have a great deal of in­ter­est in my com­mu­nity.”

Most im­por­tantly for him, he notes, are three grand­chil­dren he plans to spend a lot more time with post-re­tire­ment.

Gilling­ham and Mur­phy are not the only peo­ple re­tir­ing from their re­spec­tive schools this year. Valda AuCoin and Margie Tucker fin­ished their fi­nal week at Bac­calieu Col­le­giate, and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher Keith Neil is re­tir­ing at Cabot Academy. Care­taker Gary Slade re­tired from work at Cabot Academy ear­lier this year.


Roger Gilling­ham, Bac­calieu Col­le­giate’s first and so far only ever prin­ci­pal in the school’s 15-year his­tory, re­tired last week.


Ger­ard Mur­phy is a fa­mil­iar face to two-gen­er­a­tions of students along the North Shore in Con­cep­tion Bay. He re­tired last week, end­ing a 35-year ca­reer in ed­u­ca­tion.

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