4 min Read

Following his bliss

Working at a blue chip company in Toronto in his twenties, Craig Jollymore had the writer Joseph Campbell’s ‘follow your bliss’ philosophy on his mind. He realized he hadn’t been following his.

“I had an honours degree in English literature,” says Jollymore. “I realized my passion for literature, love for learning, my desire to make a difference in other people’s lives made it the right decision to become a teacher.

“Other than getting married, it was probably the best decision in my life.”

After earning his Bachelor of Education, Jollymore made another serendipitous move: taking a position at Rothesay Netherwood School in New Brunswick.

“I thought I might stay for a year or two,” he says. That was 20 years ago.

Jollymore, who is head of the English department and teaches grades nine and 12, lives on campus with his wife, a fellow teacher, and their two sons. He says private school teachers have a unique impact on their students’ lives.

“We are in a position to help them develop a better sense of themselves, and have their lives unfold just a little bit differently than they would have otherwise.”

Jollymore says this has a lot to do with the ‘whole child’ approach at private schools. “Our students learn to engage their passions.”

The students grow as learners, says Jollymore, “but they’re active every day on the field, the ice or the stage. They’re involved in community service. They come to know themselves really well, and end up imagining a greater set of possibilities in their lives. I’ve seen it time and again.”

Cecil VanBuskirk is Head Boy. He says Jollymore is a great teacher because he takes complex information and makes it easy to understand.

“He is so phenomenal, his retention of information, and his ability to articulate it,” says VanBuskirk. “He makes it fun. You don’t feel like you’re learning.”

VanBuskirk says Jollymore loves puns – fitting for an English teacher – but also loves rap music. Indeed, Jollymore started ‘coffeehouses,’ at which students get together in the dining hall on weekends to share refreshments and take part in friendly singing and rapping competition.

This has been especially helpful for boarding students, says VanBuskirk, providing a weekend social event at the school in the small town of Rothesay.

Jollymore also helped the grade 12 student and some friends create ‘Rap Battles,’ in which the whole student body gathers to watch and participate in freestyle rapping.

“They take turns freestyle rapping, and I guess chirp each other, kinda like razz or nudge at them, in a pleasant way.” He says Jollymore even got up and took part.

“He creates an environment where people want to be involved,” says VanBuskirk.

Jollymore says he and his colleagues are more than just teachers to the kids.

“We’re their coaches, their directors, advisors, mentors. In our boarding school, we’re their neighbours.” (Seventy percent of RNS faculty live on campus.)

Jollymore, who oversees fellow teachers’ professional development, says it takes a special person to teach in a private school.

“Teaching here is really hard work. My colleagues could go and get an easier job as a teacher somewhere else. We’re constantly seeking to improve.”

Jollymore once coached rowing, but now he coaches soccer, teaches hockey basics to international students and is an advisor for a group of senior students – talking with them every day to monitor their progress.

“As a result of the private school setting, I have a different quality of relationship with my students,” says Jollymore.

“The longer I’ve been a teacher, the more I’ve understood that great learning occurs in the context of meaningful relationships.

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