The last few days of a distinguished teaching career were a Schwann song.
Oh, how I’d love to take credit for the line, but it was actually passed to me by Kevin Machin – one of Lisa Schwann’s many proud colleagues at FW Johnson Collegiate.
Lisa, as nice as you will ever meet, is retiring as a teacher after more than 30 years in the classroom. But in her new duties as a training coordinator at St. John Ambulance, she will continue to excel at her craft.
She is one of those people who gets the most out of everything she does, while making the experience something valuable for everyone she interacts with.
We should all have that touch. We should all strive to emulate Lisa, who is universally loved. How many people can say that?
Actually, Lisa would never say that. She is far too modest to be boastful. In fact, she could very well be mortified to read this testimonial column, given her aversion to self-congratulation. Her world is all about others.
So please, Lisa, accept my lavish apologies…and my heartfelt congratulations…and my thanks.
Unfortunately, our paths do not cross often. But when we do meet, I always marvel at Lisa’s remarkable kindness and concern for others.
She always wants to know how you are doing. When you talk to her, you are the most important person in her universe. And once the conversation is over, you’ll know your day has improved, even if the chat only lasted a minute or two.
Then try to imagine how many lives she has improved during more than 30 years of teaching – and moreover by engaging in the fine art of living.
“I met Lisa when I came to our current school three years ago, the fall before COVID,” Machin recalled. “I was a fairly new high school teacher and she was practically the program creator on our board, so I learned from one of the absolute best.
“What I saw from the start and consistently after was a teacher who balked at being a coach in cross-country, basketball, and track and field, and a teacher who always had the best interests of her students in mind.
“I saw a colleague who gave and expected the best of us all. I saw a community volunteer at Regina Minor Football, a trainer at St. John AmbuIance, and someone who spent time with other organizations that were important to her.
“I saw a mother who would do anything for her son, Mike, and her dog, Dexter. I met someone who really cares about her friends and family – someone who always takes the time to ask how she’s doing, often from a conversation a few days before, about something I’d long forgotten.
“In the lives of her students, her influence is immeasurable. We work with children with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. She has helped these students and their families in ways that go far beyond the classroom.”
Chalk one for lineage.
Lisa is one of three daughters of Dr. Paul Schwann and his wife, Phyllis. I have dr. Schwann, who was only 41 when he died of cancer in 1974 — although his brother Gordon was my dentist (and a guest at my wedding). As for Phyl, she was an absolute gem.
I cherished every moment I spent with Phyl, who passed away in 2018. She was incredibly warm, selfless and thoughtful.
We often chatted at high school sporting events, such as football games or the annual awards banquet.
The Schwann Conference of the Regina Intercollegiate Football League is named after Dr. Paul. Decades after his passing, Phyl would be on hand to present the championship trophy to the conference’s top team.
Phyl was recognized as Mother of the Year in 1989 by the RIFL’s benefactor, the Wascana Kiwanis Club. That organization had awarded Paul the father-of-the-year award in 1973.
Following the rich family tradition, Lisa recently received an award. She received a Regina High Schools Athletic Association 30-year coaching plaque at the 2022 awards luncheon.
It was a well deserved honor, but from this perspective there are not enough trophies, plaques or awards in the world to adequately recognize what Lisa Schwann has done for people.
There aren’t enough words either, but I did my best – albeit while shamelessly borrowing ‘Schwann Song’.
(Rob Vanstone is the sports editor of Regina Leader-Post.)
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