Monica Bennett and Karen McIntyre retiring after some 30 years leading academics, athletics
Two of Northern Secondary School’s longest-serving coaches are ending their careers after 30-plus years of academics and athletics.
Though Monica Bennett, 56, and Karen McIntyre, 58 are retiring after the school year, they say they’re content with the legacy they will leave behind.
“I think that’s one of the most gratifying things as you near the end of your career,” McIntyre said, while sitting with Bennett inside the Mt. Pleasant Road school’s guidance office in mid-June. “You see how much the younger teachers have grown into leadership roles, and know you’ve done a little mentoring over the years.”
Bennett smiles in agreement.
“When you first come, you look at certain people as your mentors, and then they’re gone, they’re retired, and it was in a blink of an eye,” she said. “It’s 32 years in the blink of an eye. That’s how I feel.”
McIntyre joined the faculty at Northern in 1981, in the math department. Bennett was a practice teacher in ’82 and was asked to come on board after one of the science teachers left.
Bennett taught at Lawrence Park CI for a brief time, 1994-97, but came back to Northern because it was home to her. Both of them became heads of women’s phys ed departments in the ’90s.
“I think one of the reasons why we both stayed at Northern for so long is we’re both really passionate about the school,” McIntyre said.
But what the duo are most known for is their passion for sports. McIntyre has nurtured a very successful swim team, seeing OFSAA gold with Max Materne in 2010, and a steady stream of competitors representing the school at provincials, including this year with Liam Ryan and Tess Johnson.
“Over the years I’ve coached track, volleyball, Nordic skiing — and swimming is my baby, the one that the one I’ve been most devoted to,” McIntyre said.
Bennett started Northern’s girls rugby program 14 seasons ago, a move she says she is “very proud of,” and she has coached practically every team except for volleyball.
“Nordic skiing, softball, whatever was needed, we ended up doing it,” she said.
The Red Knights’ senior girls’ rugby team finished with a 3-0-1 record this year.
Both teachers agree they’ll miss being at the school but, as Bennett puts it, it’s best to go out while you’re still feeling energized.
“I still love what I do,” she said. “That’s the perfect time, when you still love what you do.”
They will be leaving behind special programs they were instrumental in bringing to the school.
Bennett initiated Well NSS: Mental Health Matters, a mental health awareness program. Since its inception students have led the way, even taking part in Bell’s Let’s Talk Day this year.
“We had a huge campaign around youth, mental health awareness, and it’s growing,” she said. “I’m really excited to leave an organization that’s going to grow and be bigger and better.”
McIntyre was a staff advisor on Smart Risk, a teen injury prevention program.
“We’ve done that at Northern for eight years now and it’s really grown,” she said. “It’s now an association within the school and we’ve seen some really outstanding students develop into peer leaders.”
Northern’s faculty celebrated Bennett’s and McIntyre’s teaching careers June 16 in a party at Whistler’s Grille in East York.