Retired East Vancouver teacher engages in life-long love of learning at Terraces On Seventh
School was in session. The “students” were lined up in orderly rows, all attentively perched eagerly in their seats, and leading the lesson was their teacher… an eight-year-old Heather Farrar.
“My father always said I was going to be a teacher, ever since I was a little girl,” said the Terraces on Seventh resident, who this year turns 80. “I would line up all my dolls and stuffed animals and I’d be telling them what they were supposed to do.”
And did they listen to her?
“Of course!” Heather said with a quick smile and a laugh.
Heather spent her whole working life as a teacher, dedicating a total of 35 years to helping young students develop and grow at Tecumseh School Annex in East Vancouver.
She delighted in instilling a love of reading in her elementary school-aged students.
“Every afternoon they’d come in and sit in a circle and I’d read to them. At the outset it would be for about 15 minutes, and then some would be picking at their shoes – sometimes it was hard to hold their attention,” she said. “But by the end of the year they’d ask, ‘Can we please have another chapter?’
Because Heather had such a long career in one school, she had the unique opportunity to teach successive generations of the same families.
“I was teaching the children of the children that I had taught,” Heather smiled. “And that was wonderful, because the parents would say to their kids, ‘Now, you have to behave for Miss Farrar.’”
“I’ve always loved to show people things and help them learn,” she adds. “It’s very rewarding.”
While she’s been retired since 1998, Heather said she still has one former student who lives locally and comes to visit her at Terraces On Seventh, the boutique retirement community in Vancouver’s Fairview and South Granville neighbourhood, where she’s lived for the past three years.
“She teaches high school,” Heather shares. “It’s wonderful to see one of my former students go into the same profession. It’s like someone gave you a gold star.”
Heather has a high level of praise for the Terraces On Seventh community that she now calls home, which is close to everything she needs
“Before coming here, I lived in an apartment nearby at 12th and Burrard, and I’ve always gone to the clinic next door, so I liked the area,” she said. “I didn’t have to change my bank, my doctor, or anything in order to move here. Plus, you’ve got Granville (Ave.) for shopping, the library, grocery shopping, and pretty much everything else you need nearby.”
But it’s the people and the sense of community at Terraces on Seventh Heather said she values the most. As a life-long learner, she enjoys the variety of activities offered that are designed to sharpen the mind.
“There’s Word-in-a-Word where you are challenged to make as many words from the letters in one longer word,” she said.
Perk is the name of another activity with unique challenges that change from session to session, such as reading a story with the text turned upside down.
“Of course, I am good at that,” Heather laughed. “Being a teacher, I’d always be looking down at the kids’ work.”
She’s also a keen member of the In Stitches group, which draws together knitters who make mittens, hats, scarves, and blankets for new moms in need and their babies.
“I knitted a total of 39 blankets last year,” Heather said. “Together, we knitted so much we were able to fill seven garbage bags full. Giving to help make peoples’ lives better in some way makes you feel better.”
Outside of Terraces On Seventh, Heather is a keen hockey fan and always makes sure to catch her beloved Vancouver Canucks on TV.
Recently, on a trip organized by Terraces On Seventh, Heather was honoured to be chosen to drop the puck before a recent Richmond Sockeyes game. The opportunity took her back to her early days growing up in Rossland, B.C.
“The Rossland Warriors, Trail Smoke Eaters, and the Penticton Vees, they were all teams I’d cheer for,” Heather said, adding she still loves being a fan, whether it’s watching on TV or being at the rink in person.
“I am very bad. I yell and scream and get upset with the referees,” she reveals. “It’s hard to hold back sometimes, so much so that my late partner said to me, ‘Heather, never play poker. You can tell by your face exactly how you’re feeling.”