Time Marches On

The Reston Recorder chose Sheila Perreault of Reston as June’s Senior Spotlight. After working as an Education Assistant for 40 years for Fort La Bosse School Division, Sheila has decided to retire. “ I can’t believe that I am part of a ‘senior’ section but records don’t lie, so here I am,” said Perreault. “I was born in August, 1950, the second daughter of Bill and Joan (his English war bride) Jago.  I have one sister (best friend) Valerie married to Ray Charles. Growing up we were surrounded by numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins as we lived in what was jokingly referred to as ‘Jagoville’.”

  Sheila attended Tilston School for grades 1-9 and then made the choice to finish her schooling at Reston Collegiate.  “Since we were not in the Fort La Bosse catchment area, my ‘driver’s education’ program consisted of jumping into the old clunker car we had and driving to meet the bus,” said Perreault

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 After graduation in 1968, Sheila enrolled in Wheat City Business College in Brandon. Following completion of the course she gained employment at Acklands, which was then situated on 18th street. However, this became a short-term job as in the meantime Roland and she became engaged and planned a wedding for June of 1970.  “Needless to say I needed to find a job closer to home. After scouring through the papers, a job opened up at the Royal Bank in Melita, which I was successful at getting and that set the wheels in motion for the move back to this area.  Our wedding was planned, the venues rented, the food prepared but the night before the wedding ceremony was to take place, my dear grandmother passed away.  We had no choice but to continue with our plans however, the ceremony, although very meaningful, became very emotional and somber but ‘Granny’ wouldn’t have wanted us to change our plans.”

  As the years passed they were ready to add to their family and so in 1973 Edward arrived and Michael joined them in 1975. “I cannot express enough how these two boys have greatly enriched our lives.  I took those 7 years off from working and became a stay-at-home mom,” explained Perreault. “In 1979, another unexpected event hit our household – my mother passed away very suddenly which changed the whole course of our lives. We were very close and I was devastated with this loss and so I felt I needed a new path to focus on.  I believe it was divine intervention because suddenly all the pieces fell together.  Both boys would be in school, Ed in Grade 2 and Mike in Kindergarten and Fort la Bosse posted a job for the very first ever Educational Assistant to be hired in Reston. A little girl in grade three with a hearing impairment was moving home to Reston to enter the regular classroom and would need some help adjusting.” Sheila felt fortunate to be hired for this position, as this was the beginning of a great relationship between the two of them. “We worked together, we laughed together and we grew together.  The plan was to stay until her graduation and then perhaps move on.  As that day approached I realized that maybe I could help others reach their academic potential and also help them with their self-confidence issues and self esteem.  After all, everybody needs someone to have their back.”

  “It’s been 40 of the most rewarding years helping a countless number of children.  I was filled with satisfaction watching their self-confidence grow as they grasped a difficult concept and I felt their disappointment if they fell short of the mark.  With each year came a new work assignment and the challenge of discovering the best approach for each student.  The first few years, the focus was on one-to-one learning and then as the pendulum swings in the education system, it was decided by the powers that be, that it was in the child’s best interest to remain in the classroom and have a variety of people working with them.  And, that’s where my job assignment drastically changed – one period you could be in kindergarten and the next in a grade 10 math class. You only had the time it took to walk down the hall to change your mindset from helping a 5-year-old and then immediately helping a 15-year-old.  No two days were the same and each one was a learning experience for me as staff and also for the students.”

  “As the familiar adage states, ‘time marches on’ and now we have a family of 10 - small but mighty!” explained Perreault.  Sheila and Roland have two wonderful daughters who joined the family, Hollee (Ed) in 1997 and Karla (Mike) in 2004 and feel blessed to have four grandchildren. Holden and Brady have already graduated and are pursuing their life goals and Breanne and Nolan are both in senior high.

 In 2012, another life changing event happened as they sold their farm in the Pipestone area and packed up and moved to Reston.  “A new home for us and the beginning of a new adventure!  We really enjoy being ‘townies’ but are we less busy? ... not really. The Anglican Church in Reston has always been our church parish and it is a very important part of our lives.  We are so blessed to have such a special ‘church family’.  Hopefully I will be able to spend more hours volunteering at Hidden Treasures.”   

  Sheila hasn’t really made plans for the future other than to slow down and take time to ‘smell the roses’.  “I look forward to enjoying a full cup of coffee in the morning, possibly still in my pajamas and hopefully reading a book!” This coming anniversary Roland and Sheila will be celebrating 50 years together. When talking about future plans, they both agree that they are what you might call a ‘low-maintenance’ couple. “We enjoy the simple things like coffee with friends, visiting with family, and taking a picnic lunch to snack on when we watch ballgames in the summer. We like to watch the grandkids perform in their various activities, on the arena ice and in their band concerts. Roland believes he can make a ‘fisherwoman’ out of me but that still remains to be seen.  I know I will have no trouble in winter keeping busy as I have lots of books on the shelf to dust off that I’ve gathered up over the years and I have several totes full of wool to create afghans and shawls and come spring, I’m always itching to get into the garden and flower beds.”

 Over the years, they like every family, have had their share of hardships to bear.  “We have lost members of our family, endured our son's devastating workplace accident, suffered and dealt with cancer, and have had our share of financial worries.  So would I have changed a few choices and decision over the years? … maybe.    Am I happy and content with my life as it is?... absolutely! Each life choice we make takes us down a different path, each with a different outcome.  Everyday I count my blessings and pray that the future holds many more happy times with family, friends and in this community of Reston.”

© Reston Recorder