By Kathy Rowe
After 20 years as an early childhood educator at Centennial Road Public School, Liz Tibbles retired last June. Fortunately, she has many happy memories to take with her. “It’s the relationships I formed with the students, teachers and parents that I will miss the most,” exclaimed Liz, when speaking about the treasured interactions she had with the kindergarten children. “It’s the chatting with the children that I loved. Talking with the kids about what they are doing–what they are playing with, what they are making. I will really miss that a lot.”
Centennial Road students and staff will miss Mrs. Tibbles as well. On the final day of school last June, Liz, accompanied by her husband Tim, began her usual walk to the school. Liz recalls, “By the time we got up to Conference Blvd., I knew something was happening. I could see all the staff lined up along the sidewalk to greet me. Everyone of them had a rose to hand me. It was incredible. I was very touched and a complete emotional mess!” A big “Happy Retirement Mrs. Tibbles” sign had been hung along the fence in front of the school. The sign was decorated and signed by all of the students. “I kept the sign. It’s fantastic!” said Liz. A fellow teacher presented Liz with a collection of notes and best wishes from the children and a photo book of Liz interacting with the students.
Liz has been with the TDSB since 2000 and, after a few years at Charlottetown Jr. P.S., began full time as an ECE at Centennial when full-day kindergarten was implemented in 2010. “I loved getting the kids enthusiastic about all things nature! I would collect abandoned birds’ nests, broken birds’ eggs, remains of bugs and any other interesting bits of nature to bring in for the kids to see. We would also go on ‘nature walks’. They would get so excited.” If you know Liz, you know her favourite bird is the penguin. The staff and students knew about this passion and each year she would look forward to leading a unit about penguins.
During the COVID shutdowns Liz admitted that virtual school had its challenges. “It was tough because parents had to be with the kids on the computer and, in a lot of cases, they were working from home.” As part of the on-line learning, Liz led small virtual playgroups. “Individually but together, we would build with Lego, or blocks or draw together. Everyone would have a chance to chat and share. They learned very quickly how to mute and unmute themselves. When school returned, the kids were quite good at washing their hands and wearing masks”.
Liz is still thinking about how she will occupy her time come September. “I feel like a teenager being asked ‘what do I want to do for the rest of my life?’ laughs Liz. I know we’ll visit our sons and their families in Cornwall and Yellowknife. I really want to get back to fixing up my garden and I love to bake. For exercise I will continue to run and walk around the neighbourhood. I’m sure more things will come to mind. I’ve got lots of time to think about my retirement plans.”
Happy Retirement Liz!