Tom Rhymes to Retire in December

by Dan Mullins

After a distinguished career in education, Tom Rhymes is retiring from the Lester B. Pearson School Board this month.

“Life is a path you beat as you walk it,” says Rhymes. Though he never expected to work in the field, he ultimately grew to love it. Rhymes has spent over three decades working in the education sector and has made a significant impact on the lives of a great many students.

A native of Cape Breton, Rhymes’ journey into education began when, looking to escape another tough Maritime winter, he landed a job teaching at a private school in Costa Rica. Upon his return, his sister helped him secure a job teaching in northern Quebec as a short-term replacement for someone who was on maternity leave. What was supposed to be a seven-week contract teaching in Kativik turned into a stay of seven years. Rhymes only left after meeting Pary Skarogiannis while in the North, and following his heart to Montreal.

In Montreal, Rhymes was introduced to Giordano Rosa, a mentor and fellow educator who recruited him to work with the now-defunct Baldwin Cartier School Board’s alternative schools. When Quebec began organizing school boards along linguistic lines in 1998, Rhymes joined the newly founded Lester B. Pearson School Board.

After leaving the classroom, Rhymes spent twelve years as principal at Spring Garden Elementary School, Riverdale High School, and Lasalle Community Comprehensive High School. It was during these years that Rhymes’ and Skarogiannis’ children were born. John is now 23, Anna 22, and Julia 19.

In speaking with Rhymes, his first degree in Philosophy and History at King’s College are as much in evidence as his later degrees in education (a B.Ed. from Dalhousie and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from McGill) — he is deeply human in his approach to education. Happy to discuss the Neil Postman books on the shelf in his office, both men assert that the role of educators, and that of the institutional community that surrounds them, goes beyond imparting information. Rather, Rhymes sees them as fostering the development of young people, liberating them, and helping them to hone the tools to more easily navigate and better appreciate life.

Throughout his career, Rhymes has been committed to making a positive impact on the lives of students. He firmly believes in the role schools play in society, even as other institutions such as the church and the family have changed. “Schools are a crucial pillar of society, although they bear increasing pressure,” he says.

Rhymes says that the work of educators is often undervalued. “The public really needs to know what people are doing in the schools, it’s so much more than they see,” he explains.

“I hold people, whoever they may be, who support and educate our youth, who care, in the highest esteem,” says Rhymes.

In his current role as Assistant Director General, Rhymes has continued to work long hours to support students by empowering teachers and administrators.

When Riverdale High School was forced to close in 2019, Rhymes, typically, returned to help his colleagues to navigate the emotional and practical disruptions. In an emotional address, he described both the employees and the building itself, which was transferred to the Marguerite Bourgeoys board, as having continuing missions in education. It was a gesture appreciated both by those who he had worked with closely and newer arrivals.

For Rhymes, as for the Riverdale building, there is a continuing mission. While he is looking forward to a well-deserved break, he says, “there may be more years behind me than ahead of me, but there is still a path to be beaten.”

19 Comments

  1. Marie-Eve says:

    Cher Tom, ton dévouement pour l’éducation de nos jeunes aura été remarquable. Une nouvelle phase de la vie débute, Bonne retraite!

  2. Ryan Duchoeny says:

    Hello Mr. Rhymes,
    My name is Ryan Duchoeny. I am not sure if you remember me. I was student at Riverdale High school. Thank you for everything! Enjoy your retirement. Happy holidays 🙂

  3. Kayla Allen says:

    Congratulations Mr. Rhymes
    You have always went above and beyond for us students and we are forever grateful to have had you for some of the most important years of our lives! You deserve this and I’m wishing you a happy holiday ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Lashanda Gray says:

    Congratulations Mr Rhymes thank you for all that you’ve done for me & my family the best principal anyone can ever ask for wishing all the best.

  5. Norm Horner says:

    I was very fortunate to have worked with Tom over the years, and also to have been in the audience when he gave that very moving speech at the time of Riverdale’s closing. What he said that evening summed up everything he believed in and lived everyday; his complete support for young people and his belief in the positive power of education. It’s no wonder to me that Tom was admired and appreciated by teachers, students and parents wherever he worked.

  6. James Aitken says:

    Wishing you the best, from an old friend.
    Jim

  7. Jaspreet Kaur says:

    Congratulations Mr. Rhymes!

  8. Angela Grigoropoulos says:

    Congratulations Tom on your retirement!
    You made a tremendous impact on everyone that worked with you! You were a mentor and. Above all a confidant to me! I will always remember your support! Wishing you all the best and enjoy yourself with your lovely family!

  9. Eleanor Zuckerman says:

    Tom, you made a significant impact on many who “worked with you”, as well as the students. Thank you for all your support, influence, guidance. and inspiration! You made a difference! Good luck in the next chapter of your life! Enjoy your retirement! Now is the time for “you”! Ellie Zuckerman

  10. Cheryl Libman says:

    Congratulations Tom on your retirement! Wishing you much happiness as you move to your next chapter.

    1. Nicole Charest & Stéphane Bédard says:

      Huge congrats from two friends and colleagues from your early days in Puvirnutuq. Bravo et félicitations, Tom! Profites-en!

  11. Kathleen Campbell says:

    Welcome to retirement….it’s great….no regrets…

    1. Yara Camel-Toueg says:

      Congratulations Mr. Rhymes!
      Although you were one of “those people who worked at the board” when our paths began to cross, you were always very approchable and as a “little kindergarten teacher”, I’ve always appreciated that. You were and will continue to be greatly admired by many. Your influence went much further than you can imagine. Thank you for always being respectful, caring and making us feel important. Thank you for always serving our Baldwin Cartier and Lester B communities with much kindness and heart. Bonne retraite et j’espère à bientôt!

  12. Allison Saunders says:

    You will be missed, Mr. Rhymes. Thank you for all that you have done.
    Much love to you and your family.
    -a-

  13. Natalie Knott says:

    Congratulations Tom! Wishing you much happiness and joy. Thank you for your wise words, support and infinite kindness. You will be missed

  14. Lois Gosse says:

    Dear Tom, A career you can be most proud of and a well earned break ahead. Teachers under your leadership were able to thrive and grow because you led by doing and through example, the best an administrator could be.
    Congratulations! May your retirement reward you with the riches life has to offer!
    With great respect, Lois Gosse

  15. Noel Burke says:

    Congratulations Tom – a pause well earned and a lot more to give in whatever way you choose!

  16. Marti McFadzean says:

    Thank you for your 30 years of service to education and more recently to staff and students. Marti McFadzean

  17. Joni Shapiro says:

    Congratulations, Tom!! Wishing you all the best of health, happiness and fulfillment in your retirement. Thank you for your unwavering support over the years. Joni Shapiro

Leave a Reply