Chuck Crabbe is convinced, despite all the education and training to be a teacher, that he can have a huge effect on the learning abilities of students outside of the traditional classroom.
Teaching grade 8 at Beatty Fleming Sr. Public School, where he prepares youngsters for high school, Crabbe is one of those individuals that is admired and respected by students for his ability to help bring out the best in them.
Crabbe knows that things can be challenging these days for young people, but he also had a rough personal road to conquer and through a constant pursuit of excellence, saw a dream, that he cherished since childhood, become a reality.
After graduating from the University of Windsor with a degree in Psychology and Education, he took some time off and then returned for Teachers College. He also signed with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. When playing time was limited, he knew it was time to focus on a real job.
It was off to Greece to teach, followed by some extensive travel to England, France, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia, Then, some supply teaching in Waterloo before accepting a position with the Peel District School Board.
"I believe that many kids have it tougher now than when I was that age- and I had periods of challenges, too," said Crabbe, who initially set out to be a police officer and a career in criminology. "Wherever you look, families have financial issues, there are societal changes and for some kids, school is just not their thing."
Crabbe knows his role is to have a positive impact on kids.
"I've always taken pride in that I've been there when kids need me – and to help those not having an easy time in school," he said. "I have seen kids get through school with better direction, ignited by the ability to gain more confidence, and it can be simply by physical activity, sports and playing football."
A firm believer that to accomplish anything substantive, requires commitment, dedication and hard work, Crabbe chose to be a teacher almost 20 years ago. He has many stories about feeling like a fatherly figure for many who used various sports to enhance their academics and stature.
As if a full load of teaching and coaching sports at an elementary school isn't enough, Crabbe then finds time to shuffle off to the football field at David Suzuki Secondary School to handle the offensive side of the gridiron teams.
"There are times when some of these young people need more than a test to challenge them," said Crabbe. "I really believe that people are happiest when there is a common goal and in a group setting like a sports team. That's the great thing about sports, the emotional ride is filled with ups and downs – and that's the same with life."
Being involved, claims Crabbe, is keeping those same people engaged and learning life lessons. He's seen how changes, through his blend of experience and knowledge, have motivated students in a positive way
Crabbe said "sitting at a desk for six hours doesn't work for everyone and there are students who need an outlet to let off some steam. In football, it's also an outlet for aggression."
Harnoor Dhaliwal, who has football scholarship offers from two universities, said "Mr. Crabbe has been a huge part of my development – and not just learning to play football better, but teaching me about duties, responsibilities and life lessons".
"The great thing about Mr. Crabbe is that he's there when you need him and for me, he's pushed academics all the time, kept me focused on doing the right thing and helped change the course of my life for the better," said D'andre Brookes, the quarterback of the Suzuki senior team.
Not one for accolades, Crabbe knows the lure of coaching has been addicting, and often quite challenging, but also is aware that creativity can bloom amidst constraints and pressures while pushing students to set their goals on standards that are realistic.