Alumni, People

George McAuley on teaching, music, and full circle moments

March 18, 2024

Western Education alum, JPII Vice Principal, and one quarter of The McAuley Boys, George McAuley.

“The shade that we’re now enjoying is the shade of the trees we planted years ago.”

These are the words that come to George McAuley’s mind when the Western Education alum considers his place in life after more than 20 years of teaching.

It’s a career that George likely hadn’t envisioned when he was a student himself back at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School (JPII).

While Western University was always in the cards, with parents Rita and Winston McAuley having also graduated as purple and proud scholars, growing up to be a teacher was not.

After graduating from JPII, George enrolled at Western in pursuit of an undergraduate degree in math while eyeing a career in medicine.

At the same time, George had another dream in his mind, driven by a shared family love of music.

Toward the latter half of his undergrad, George and his brothers Gary, Mark, and Randy, known professionally as The McAuley Boys, released their debut album, Wonderful Christmas Time.

Wonderful Christmas Time was a hit and The McAuley Boys found even more success with their sophomore album, In Another Lifetime, which went on to earn a nomination for Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year at the 1997 Juno Awards.


From left to right: Mark McAuley, Gary McAuley, George McAuley, and Randy McAuley pose for a photo at the 1997 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, where they performed “O Canada.”

Their musical success prompted George to replan his future as he sought a path that wouldn’t require as much time away from music.

Instead, he chose to follow in his mother’s footsteps and pursue teaching.

“My mom taught all of us. She taught all my brothers, she later taught my kids and my brothers’ kids,” McAuley said.

“Education seemed to make sense and so it was a natural progression into that.”

After obtaining his Bachelor of Education degree from Western Education in 1998, McAuley began his teaching career at Catholic Central High School (CCH).

In the classroom and on the stage

George’s tenure at CCH started as a two-week contract. He figured it would give him a chance to simply dip his toes into the water, but he soon found himself swimming in a newfound love for education.

“Two weeks morphed into a month, into a semester, and then 26 years later, here we are,” he added.

Looking back, George describes his first days of teaching as “awesome.”

This was due in part to the numerous family connections he had with CCH — Mark had just graduated and Randy was starting Grade 9 right when George was coming to teach.

Having an older brother as a teacher also meant Randy was able to catch a ride with George into CCH every morning.

“We had music videos on TV, we were doing telethons, morning shows and radio interviews at the same time, so Randy and I would do that and hustle back to school. We’d take off sometimes and break out to Montreal or break out to Ottawa, do shows, and come back,” George recalled.

“It was a very unique and cool experience.”

Despite the busy schedule, George and his brothers kept each other focused. From the jump, the four of them were guided by their parents into making sure education remained a priority.

“Our parents didn’t push in any certain direction, they didn’t put that kind of pressure on us, but one thing they wanted to make sure was that the stuff the older boys experienced wasn’t taking away from the younger ones, so we had to find that perfect balance,” George said.

“Looking back, our parents did a good job of making sure we were grounded and making sure our Plan A and Plan B were working in concert with each other.”

Maturing as an educator

As he grew into his teaching career and shifted his focus to the classroom, George recalls having to change his mindset over time, adding that “you think you know and understand the job because you were a student. Being the teacher is much different.”

“One of the first things you learn as a teacher is to not assume that your student experience will be the same as that of your students. Each student brings with them a unique story, dream, and set of goals,” he said.

“One has to figure out who they are working with and be a lot better at teaching the person rather than just the content.”

As the years rolled on, George wanted to complement his growing experience with a master’s degree in mathematics, but a chance encounter with Western Education professors Dr. Goli Rezai-Rashti and Dr. Wayne Martino would help George find his true calling.

“They saw me walking down the hall, they called me into the office, and we had about an hour-long conversation,” George said.

George found himself fascinated as he learned about Rezai-Rashti and Martino’s research in equity, social justice, and anti-racism, adding that the two “were way ahead of their time.”

“I knew at that point that the master’s in math wasn’t going to happen, I was going to do a master’s in anti-racism education,” he added.

This program, George said, improved his ability to provide for those under his wing both as a teacher and as a coach, allowing him to do a better job of not only educating the individual, but also shaping his students into people who are more aware of their surroundings and themselves.

Full circle moments

George is now back at his former high school of JPII, where he serves as Vice Principal.

Continuing to share the lessons from his master’s degree, George contributes actively to anti-racism and anti-oppression work throughout the London District School Board and the country. He says his favourite moment from doing this work is when he sees the “lights go on” for educators and students as they learn about the importance of equity and inclusion.

George is also now at a point in his career where he can finally meet the leaders his students have grown into.

A recent example took place earlier this year when George attended CCH’s Crusader Football Banquet. To his surprise, George was awarded that night with an induction into CCH’s 70th anniversary All Decade Team for the pivotal role he played as Junior Football Coach. While it was a tremendous honour, George’s most cherished memory from that night was reuniting with his former students and colleagues.

“I felt privileged to learn that whatever little I did, inspired them to work towards roles of teaching and coaching,” he added.

“That was fantastic.”


From left to right: Mark Howard, George McAuley, and Drew Irvine pose for a photo at the 2024 Annual Crusader Football Banquet. Mark and Drew, former players coached by George and now colleagues, are Western Football Alumni and current senior football coaches at CCH.

In another full circle moment, The McAuley Boys are also coming back into focus.

In 2022, the group released their first single in two decades, I Can’t Wait To See You Smile. The following year, The McAuley Boys were inducted in the London Music Hall of Fame. Gary, George, Randy, and Mark would cap off 2023 with a Christmas-themed concert alongside London Symphonia.

These moments are extra special for George as his children, who are also continuing the Western University family tradition, didn’t get to witness the first iteration of The McAuley Boys.

“We’re not just telling stories anymore of what it was, they can actually see it in real time,” McAuley said.

“I feel very fortunate to be in this position, to be back at my school of John Paul II, and just to be enjoying life.”