It is rare to find an educator who chooses to teach for more than 30 years and it is even rarer to find one who has spent all of those three-plus decades at the same institution.
Ted Trenchard of Bay Roberts is one of those educators, and according to him, he is only one to do so in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Graduating from Memorial University with a degree in special education, Trenchard started at Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts in September 1978 and has remained in that position ever since.
"I was in the first graduating class for special education and I could pick and choose what school I wanted," he said. "I chose Ascension because in 1978 it was on the rise of getting into a different level of programs."
When the final school bell rings for the 2011-2012 school year, it will mark his 34th year at the school.
"I'm very lucky because I never had to worry about getting laid off or getting into a car pool. I never had to substitute a day. I was very fortunate," said Trenchard.
He has seen many changes in the school system since his beginnings at Ascension. From technology to the evolution of the student, the educational landscape has changed.
He has seen the addition of Grade 12 in 1982 to the school's curriculum as well as the absorption of the teachers and students from Bishop O'Neill Collegiate in Brigus in 2000.
"It was a very smooth transition considering we thought there was going to be a little bit of upheaval," he said. "It worked out. The staff that came up were great."
Even the physical changes to the school, like the installation of elevators and surveillance cameras, which he calls "sign of the times."
One of the changes Trenchard believes helped prolong his time in the classroom was the installation of fitness equipment four years ago.
"I'm telling you the truth, if they didn't have that there I think I may have retired four years earlier," he said.
Some of the biggest changes Trenchard has seen have been in education.
He has gone from teaching in classrooms with chalkboards to ones with so-called interactive smart boards and TeamBoards.
"The change is exponential when it comes to programs and technology," said Trenchard.
He said he can especially see the change in his own field of special education.
"It has become much better," said Trenchard.
The special education student in today's classroom is provided with a lot more opportunities to overcome their obstacles, according to the teacher.
There is a co-op program, and other opportunities where the student can go out into secondary schools and get support.
"There are teachers in all of their classrooms to help them out," said Trenchard. "When I first started, they were isolated and now there is inclusion, which is very good."
Retirement by the numbers
Anyone who knows Trenchard, knows he has a penchant for numbers.
Ask him any time of the year how many days are left in the school year, and he will be able to tell you the exact amount.
In his 34 years at Ascension, Trenchard has interacted with close to 8,400 students in the halls.
He's worked with eight principals - Bill Hedderson, Wes Gosse, Philip Wood, Hayward Blake, Darrin Pike, Neil Kearley, Bruce Sheppard and Fred Bullen - and 13 vice-principals. The number of teachers he has served with is too high to count.
Trenchard holds high respect for Hedderson, after all he was his first principal.
"He was a teacher's principal. He always had the teacher's back and supported them," he said. "He was very fair."
Trenchard still calls him Mr. Hedderson to this day.
He remembers being told to chaperone a school dance in the second week of employment.
Tenchard thought that was strange that he was told to work the dance, instead of being asked.
"He told me two things. 1. 'See Mr. Newman after the dance.' That meant he'd have a little drink for you after; and 2. 'Don't come in until 9:30 tomorrow morning,'" he said.
Trenchard is also big into athletics. Ascension has captured 44 AAAA banners in its history and he has been a part of the faculty for 41 of those banners. It's a number he is proud of.
One last go
Trenchard made the decision to retire prior to the start of this school year. When his wife, Dianne, retired, he knew it was time for him to soon follow suit.
"I enjoyed it. It was a great run," said Trenchard. "There was a great staff and fantastic adminstration. You never stand alone."
He experienced closure, when in early May, Trenchard attended his last graduation ceremony.
"I had mixed feelings. I knew it was going to be my last one," he said. "I reflected back to my first one.
"It certainly was different and I wasn't going to miss it."
Trenchard has seen both of this children, Sheileigh and Ryan, enter and leave Ascension.
His plans once the year has ended include a vacation to Australia in September, something he says will help with the adjustment, getting back into recreational hockey and joining the Royal Canadian Legion.
It is something he has always wanted to do.
"I'm the son and the grandson of war veterans," he said. "My grandfather was big in the Legion, and I think I would like to do that."