Alumnus mentors next generation of teachers
Gregg Bereznick has done it all in education. He’s been an administrator, principal, teacher, continuing education leader, Faculty of Education instructor and mentor. In addition, he’s also worked in a variety of school boards in rural and urban Ontario.
But, his journey into teaching didn’t start from emulating a favourite teacher. Instead, his inspiration was himself.
“I didn't understand why I wanted to be a teacher,” said Bereznick. “I just knew that being an educator was something I wanted to do.”
However, he realized teaching was a huge responsibility once he started working as a certified teacher in the classroom.
“Your day is filled with opportunities to influence lives and help people realize their potential as a learner,” he said.
Bereznick started as a music teacher at W.E. Thompson Public School in the Bruce County Board of Education. There, he started a new music program. After a few years, he joined the Board of Education for the City of London where he worked in downtown London as a music teacher.
In addition to being in the classroom, Bereznick was a consultant for the arts and was also involved in special education. Later, he became a vice-principal and then a principal before moving into the Director of Education’s Office as a Supervisor to help with the transition of the newly created Thames Valley District School Board in 1998.
He finished his career as a Superintendent at the Waterloo Region District School Board where he was responsible for 33 schools.
However, retirement didn’t stop Bereznick from giving back to education. First, he became head of school at a private school before becoming manager of continuing professional development at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. His current role provides educational experiences that allows doctors to continue their accreditation.
Giving back to the Faculty of Education has also been important for Bereznick. He was an instructor and a mentor to teacher candidates. He said mentorship is important because he’s able to help teacher candidates connect with who they are and what teaching is all about. He added teacher candidates are looking for guidance and ‘trying to connect the dots,’ which gives them a sense of purpose and an energy to move forward.
“That is a huge responsibility you're given and you want to get people started off in the right way because if they're going to be successful, their students are going to be successful and the profession is going to be successful as well,” he said.
To highlight the importance of teachers in their students’ lives, Bereznick gave teacher candidates in his music class a baton at the end of term – it was a symbol that they were going into the world and they should bring the gift of music education to their students.
“Choosing a career in education is transformational because it takes you to a deeper understanding of who you are and working with students will help you reconnect with your commitment to teaching by the needs that they have,” said Bereznick. “This is a calling. It's not just a job.”