Robert Hillmer Award 2006: Leonard Bulmer

Rosy Nadalin Kennedy and  Leonard Bulmer

Rosy Nadalin Kennedy and Leonard Bulmer

Leonard’s Speech
My first OBEA Spring Conference was in 1969. It was also my first year as a Business Teacher with the Scarborough Board of Education, now part of the TDSB. At that conference, there was a night dinner where the Hillmer Award winner was announced. The winner impressed me, as I have been by all subsequent winners that I have had the privilege to meet. I never thought that I would someday join this amazing and dedicated group of individuals who are recognized for there contributions to Business Education.

I was watching the Olympic Women’s skating when Laura Pinto called to tell me that I was to be the recipient of the award. I felt like I had won a gold medal. What a wonderful feeling, one I will cherish forever.

After completing a three-year diploma in Business Administration at the Eastern Ontario Institute of Technology in Ottawa I started my teaching career in Manitouwadge High School in 1966 on a Letter Of Permission, I taught grades nine, ten, eleven and twelve in a school of 184 students and I was 21 years old at the time. Not much older than senior students in grades 12 and 13, led to some very interesting moments for discipline.

I left Manitouwadge after what was my first year of teaching and went to Lakehead University and received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in one year. It was then on to the Faculty of Education, University of Toronto in 1968 for my Bachelor of Education. While at the faculty I had the privilege of being taught by Professor Seggie who was a respected educator and book writer.

After graduation I went back up to Thunder Bay and taught at Hillcrest High School. Thunder Bay was my hometown and Hillcrest High School was the school I had graduated. Interestingly I taught my brother and many of his friends of both sexes who were frequent visitors to my family’s home and cottage. I can assure you this added a dimension to teaching that was not covered at the faculty.

While I had been at FEUT (Faculty of Education University of Toronto) the year before, I had one of my practise sessions at R.H. King Collegiate with Gary Pennignton, a former president of OBEA, and I met my wife of 35 years who was a young teacher in the Business Department. It was very attractive to leave Thunder Bay and come to Toronto and court Mary and start my teaching career at Sir Oliver Mowat C.I., under the guidance of a fantastic department head, Ed O’Hagan. An opportunity came up for me to apply and accept an assistant department headship at David and Mary Thompson C.I., where I taught for a seventeen years before becoming Head of Business Education at W.A. Porter C.I. where I finished my career.

Someone once asked me what were some of the highlights of my career spanning 35 years. I would have to say one took place in the year 1976 when I submitted to the Board Programming Department an idea to offer Co-Op education as a summer school credit alternative for students. So I wrote up the parameters according to Ministry Guidelines and sent the document on to Trevor Baker, the Coordinator of Business Studies. Trevor and I tweaked the submission and we passed it on to the monthly Board Meeting. Trevor called the day after the meeting to say that the idea had been approved for submission to the Ministry of Education, where the concept was approved on an experimental basis. That summer I had 20 students in the program for credit. It was a great success. The summer program has run every summer since. The program was extended the next year at David and Mary Thomson C.I. to the day program with the approval of a forward thinking principal who saw the value of an alternative way of delivering innovative curriculum to students.

I spent many exciting years involved in coop both in the summer and winter programs especially when it came to finding placements students expressed an interest. One comes to mind. I placed a student in a hospital where she worked in a department that sliced eyes into sections that were mounted onto slides. It seems that experts looking at these slides can understand a great deal about disease. She could hardly wait for my visits so she could show me slides of interest. Her ambition was to become a researcher and the placement was exactly the area she wanted.

There was other time that I felt excited about adding new ways of delivering curriculum to students and once again with the help of the Board Coordinator, Marg Daniel, I was able to secure a Sabbatical leave for one year. My sabbatical dealt with finding and using computer software simulations in marketing, entrepreneurial studies, management studies, introduction to business and accounting. Students made decisions that would affect the Income, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statements. Working in groups, each team made decisions on price, quantity to produce, number of full time and part time workers, break even point, how much to spend on advertising and market research to name a few. Once the group made all their decisions they inputted their choices into a computer that ran the simulation and produced quarterly results in the form of Cash Flow, Income and Balance Sheet statements. Students would line up at my office door before and after school, not even waiting for class, to see how they had faired against their competitors. Evaluation was easy the top performers got an “A” next performer a “B”, next performer a “C”, and last a “D”. No one failed. It was amazing how hard students worked to improve their profit position.

From both of these experiences, I was able over several years to deliver workshops at OBEA Fall and Spring Conferences, TDSB PD Days, PD days throughout the province and to address eighty Community College teachers in Newfoundland. Possibly some of you attended some of these workshops. My workshop participation led me to meet many executive of the OBEA, who asked me to become part of the organization. I held positions as a counsellor, contest chair, VP of Communications and eventually the president of OBEA in 2001, the millennium year.

More than my involvement in OBEA for over a decade I met many people whom I would like to call friends. Don Lawerence and Linda Brown to name two. I feel very close to Linda as we have shared personal triumphs both in our professional and family lives. We have been sharing our thoughts for ourselves, family, and for the OBEA who we both feel is family for so long that when I left OBEA as Past President, Linda, called and asked me to come back and help out as Vice President of Communications for another year. It seems that it is very hard to leave something that has given you so much satisfaction.

I must share with you what it is like to work with Linda. She is very demanding, yet has a great sense of humour. Just don’t have her look after your dog. You need to have her tell you that story. Linda would call me or I would call her almost daily for months, as we got closer to a fall or spring workshop. My daughter would say that my girlfriend called, and I would know it was Linda. I think she got the same message at home from members of her family. Few people know that Linda and I are also from Thunder Bay, but never knew each other, as she lived in another part of the city and went to a different high school. Yet we both share a love of Persians which is a donut only available in Thunder Bay.

Thank you Linda for being such a great friend, I know I can talk to you about anything. And thank you to everyone in the organization who has made all the time we have spent together, such an enjoyable and significant part of my career.

At this time I would like to introduce a few people who have made the three and a half decades in teaching pass every so quickly.

First is my wife, Mary, who spent her entire career as a business educator at R.H. King C.I. in Scarborough. If there is any person in teaching who is an exemplary teacher it is Mary. Mary never once complained about all the time I spent involved in OBEA or with Linda. In fact I have a feeling she enjoyed the weekends the executive spent planning as a break from me.

Second my daughter, Courtney, who graduated from Guelph University with a Masters degree two years ago and is currently working for Proctor and Gamble in Marketing. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy listening to her talk about marketing, as she has so much insight into the Canadian Consumer. Courtney was a Member of Black Ice and Burlington Ice Image precision teams that competed in the worlds a number of times. Both teams won medals. She still skates competitively with an adult team. A father could not be more proud of her accomplishments.

I would like to introduce Glenn Homes, Accounting Teacher of the Year 2001 and my assistant department head for many years for showing me that a quiet voice can be heard amongst the students resulting in many young people competing and placing in accounting contests.

I would like to thank Ron Robinson, Accounting Teacher of the Year 2005, for taking the time to come here today to offer so many kind remarks about me. Ron is truly an exceptional department head and now curriculum leader at Agincourt C.I.

Ron and Glenn are teachers I have known and respected for over thirty three years. Both are role models for their peers and each has influenced many young people, who have gone on to university in pursuit of degrees in commerce.

A couple of years ago, I was in the emergency room at Sunnybroke Hospital, my wife and daughter in attendance, wires and tubes running out of me, monitors on, nurses and doctors concerned about my well being, when a young man who I taught about twenty years ago, stopped and said hello. We talked about his time at Thompson and what career he had ended up in, which was paramedic. What was so great was that he remembered me and took the time to say hello even though I was not having one of my better days.

We are remembered by our students, many who have gone on to careers and adventures that I know we have had a part in playing. You never know where you might meet one of these young people.

Finally, if you take a person’s money all you have is their money, if you take a person’s time you have part of their lives. Thank you for sharing part of your lives with me today.

Thank you for honouring me today.