After 26.5 years with Fort La Bosse and 33 years of teaching in total, Mrs. Michelle Gervin has decided to retire. On Thursday, May 23, “The Final Countdown” band concert was held at Reston School where staff and students surprised her with a tearful farewell.
Michelle grew up on a farm east of Pipestone near Belleview. “I attended Pipestone School in Grades 1 and 2 and then attended Reston Elementary School and Reston Collegiate, until graduating in June of 1981.”
Michelle was musical from a young age, “I started on trumpet in Grade 7 which was when the band program was started in Fort La Bosse School Division,” explained Gervin. “My first teacher, Mr. Bob Schonberger taught band in 13 schools in the division at the same time. I also learned to play the clarinet because my sister was playing it, the saxophone and a snare drum.”
Being a band teacher, one must have a basic knowledge of all instruments. “I have never taught the oboe because the school doesn't own one, but I have taught the bassoon which is quite difficult to play and maintain,” explained Gervin.
Michelle studied Music at Brandon University and received a Bachelor of Music Education, graduating in 1986. Her teacher minor is Physical Education and has had the opportunity to teach P.E. at several grade levels in her teaching career. “Both Mr. Schonberger and Miss Bev Learmonth (now Mrs. Walker), inspired me to learn music. I knew I wanted to pursue music and decided on being a music teacher by the end of Grade 11,” said Gervin.
Michelle has taught in Deloraine, Waskada, Sinclair, Plainview Colony, Boundary Lane Colony, Elkhorn and Reston. “My first year out of university, Allan and I got married and lived in Melita. I spent a great deal of time subbing in Melita and Pierson. I was almost 1/2 time subbing. The band/music teacher had health and family health issues and I was able to fill in for him. The next year, I taught elementary music in Deloraine School.”
Michelle started at Reston Elementary in December of 1992 when Mrs. Karyn Morrow Penner went on maternity leave from her position. “Fortunately for me, she chose not to return. I added Reston Collegiate to my position in February of 2004 when Mr. Winkless was no longer able to continue.”
One of the biggest changes she has seen in her career is the amalgamation of the two Reston schools. “Although it was a difficult move for many, it made my job easier to finally be in one school,” said Gervin. “One of the highlights in my career was attending the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago in December, 2012 with my Fort La Bosse band colleagues. The talent was phenomenal. Composers from across North America were in attendance to promote their music. I even met Lou Marini, the sax player from the original Blues Brothers band. Another highlight was attending the Con Brio Music Festival in Whistler last April with some of my students and the Virden Collegiate concert band.”
“I have no regrets about choosing music education as my career,” said Gervin. “If I was to start over again, I'd take training to drive a bus or the Whyte Foundation van so I didn't always have to beg for drivers.”
Michelle plans to work as a substitute teacher in the division. “I know from experience that substitutes with musical knowledge are rare so I think I will likely get called in for some of my music colleagues. My husband, Allan, and I like to attend CFL games and large curling championships so we will be more available to travel to these events. We live on a farm so there is always something to do. Similar to teaching, some jobs are more fun than others,” commented Gervin. Our son, Justin and his fiance, Jodi, live a mile from us, on the same section. They are always helpful in farming activities. “Our daughter, Adelle, just graduated from U of M with a degree in Agriculture and is presently living in Virden and working for Agriculture in the Classroom. It's great to have them so close to home.”
Michelle plans to continue to belong to the Scarth Community Club, sing with Young at Heart and the Noteable Women, and play trumpet in the Mark Humphries Orchestra. When not doing these things, she enjoys gardening and canning, relaxing at their campsite at Oak Lake, going for rides on the side by side, and visiting with friends and neighbours. We wish her well for a long and rewarding retirement.