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End of an era

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services
Monday, May 28, 2007

SPENCE BAY - Things have come full circle when you are teaching the children of people you used to teach.

Kublu Tucktoo has been teaching a second generation of children for the past few years, but not for much longer.

The veteran Taloyoak kindergarten teacher is retiring after 32 years in the classroom.

"Being with the children, that is the part I am going to miss," said Tucktoo. "I look at them as my family, and I'm the oldest in the family."

A teacher since 1974, Tucktoo has picked up a few tricks for dealing with a classroom full of children.

"You have to understand their individual needs, you have to know how to make them listen," said Tucktoo. "Each child is an individual, and without that, you would have no control of your students."

She has seen the changes in Taloyoak over the past 32 years reflected in her classroom, and sees one major difference between her past students and her present ones.

"When I started, all the students were bilingual, except for the southern kids," she said. "Everybody knew (Inuktitut) and understood. Now you need a translator in the classroom. The bright kids will translate for the other kids."

It is a little strange for Tucktoo when former students come back to her classroom for parent-teacher interviews, as parents.

But it does give her an extra window into each child.

"When those parents come in for an interview, it is like talking to their parents, who are the students grandparents. It is like starting over," said Tucktoo.

With her free time, Tucktoo plans to keep active. "One of the reasons I am retiring is family," she said. "My mother is a widow now and in her 70's. I want to spend as much time as possible with her. She still makes lunch every day for 27 people, including great-grandkids."

Her last day at the school will be June 11, and she shared the secret that has kept there for 32 years.

"It is how much love you put into your work," said Tucktoo.