Local teacher heads down under
By Jennifer Bowman
Tim Hortons was a major influence in Scott and Kelly Surch's decision to come to Canada on a teacher exchange. Monsignor Micheal O'leary's principal presented the couple with Tim Hortons mugs on Friday following a school assembly to welcome the family.
Photo by Jennifer Bowman
January 16, 2013
BRACEBRIDGE - Monsignor Michael O’Leary welcomed its first foreign exchange teacher in an iconic Muskoka way, with cups of Tim Hortons coffee in Muskoka chairs around a campfire.
The Catholic school in Bracebridge welcomed Kelly Surch, her husband and two children from Australia in an assembly on Friday, Jan. 11 where they also sent off their own teacher Mrs Lori Files and her family.
Surch said she fell in love with Canada on a previous trip, but one of the influencing factors to come back was Tim Hortons.
“It was the first place we went at the airport,” Surch said.
The decided to take a later bus so they would have time to eat at Tim Hortons at the airport before they left.
Coffee didn’t play a role in Files decision to head to Australia.
“I discovered that they don’t have a coffee maker in their house,” she said. “I let them know that probably when they returned they would have the addition of a coffee maker in their home.”
She said she’s wanted to go to Australia ever since doing a project on the continent in Grade 4 when she learned about the duckbilled platypus.
The Files and Surchs are the first teacher exchange in MMO’s 26-year history and brought a lot of excitement to the school. Yellow signs for wombat crossings and other Australian animals decorated the school’s halls and the mayor presented them honourary Bracebridge pins.
“It felt like my wedding day, I couldn’t stop smiling,” Surch said.
Paul Follis, the school’s principal, presented them with Tim Hortons mugs and doughnuts on their first day.
“While everything is new it’s also extremely exciting and we know it will be extremely rewarding for our school community,” Follis said. “And Mrs Files will really make a positive impact on the Southport Queensland, Australia community.”
The families are swapping houses, and through daily conversations for almost a year they organized “everything down to camping equipment.”
The Files tried to go to Australia two years ago, but two months before they were scheduled to fly over - after they had booked their flights, gotten their VISAs, and Steve had left his job - the other family pulled out.
They look at the situation as though it was “meant to be.” Her husband Steve landed a new job that gave him a leave of absence for the year after only working there for one year, and the two families hit it off so well they planned to meet in Canada before the Files flew to Australia, unlike many exchanges who pass by each other in the air.
Lori said she’s happy about the decision.
“Within an hour her son had our dog shaking a paw, which he doesn’t do,” Files said
Both teachers want to travel and experience as much of their host countries as possible, bringing their experiences into the classroom to teach children the differences of the two countries as well as the similarities.
Surch’s new students are excited to have an Australian teacher and want to learn all about Australia from whether they’ve ever had a really, really cold day to what sports they play and whether they have any kangaroo signs.
The excitement is mingled with nostalgia.
“I’m going to miss doing art with Mrs Files, because she’s an artist,” said Charli Coutts, a Grade 4 student in the Grade3-4 split class.
At the same time Coutts is interested in learning some Australian songs.
Surch’s own children were out exploring the snow, building snowmen and koalas.
Files will be teaching at a city school that Surch describes as transient.
Over the course of a year 50 per cent of the students leave the class and new ones come, Surch said. Some kids sign up and are only there for four days.
The Files will arrive in the middle of summer in Australia facing 35C heat.
To follow the Files adventures in Australia, travelfile.wordpress.com.
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