After 32 years working in Christian education, Gayle Freeburn has more memories to consider than she can count.
As she prepares for her upcoming retirement, as principal at Community Christian School in Metcalfe, she reflects on a career that saw her stand before classes in all grades from kindergarten to Grade 8, and lead as principal on separate occasions.
After a few years teaching in the public school system, she stumbled into Christian education when she filled an emergency vacancy for at Peterborough’s Rhema Christian School.
She never looked back.
As she considers some of the challenges she faced she sometimes wonders, “How did I ever do it?”
The answer comes when she’s asked about what she’d like most to be remembered for.
“My modeling Christ, my love of the children,” got her through.
“I think the most important thing people have said is ‘that Gayle is really God’s hand extended,’” she says.
“There are a lot of times I fell down on that,” she laughs, thinking about how her faith kept her strong in times of challenge.
Her love of the children kept her motivated for more than three decades.
“They teach me as much as I teach them,” she says, “and to see a child who struggles and then the light suddenly comes on, it just makes all the hours and hours so worth it to see that.”
“All I’ve ever really wanted to do was to teach.”
Because she’s spent the last 27 years at Metcalfe — 12 as principal — she’s really going to miss the sense of community within the school. The interaction between students and staff, especially during excursions outside the classroom, will also remain a fond memory.
Yes, there are many things she’ll miss, but many to look forward to as well. She intends to spend more time with her grandchildren and become more active with her church in Nepean.
As for the future of Christian education, she’s hopeful.
“As long as you have parents who are committed to providing a quality education with a Christian perspective on it, I think it will be fine,” she says.