Three residents of Willow Lodge in Tatamagouche – Doris Lepper, Isabel Bonnyman, and Pearl MacKay – are all former teachers in the village. Bonnyman spent almost 30 years teaching in the area and has been watching the new school construction from her window. Raissa Tetanish photo

Isabel Bonnyman looks out her window at Willow Lodge and can see a building where she spent many a day.

Behind the North Colchester High School, she can also see the new Tatamagouche Regional Academy slated to open to students next year.

Bonnyman, 100 years old, worked in the educational system in Tatamagouche for close to three decades as a teacher.

“When you were teaching something and you looked at somebody and their eyes would just light up,” she said, a smile spreading across her face as she thought about her former career. “It made it worthwhile.”

Growing up one of eight children, Bonnyman said there weren’t many choices for work.

“There wasn’t that much in those days for a person to do, and I had a chance to go to college, thanks to my sisters. I enjoyed it.”

Bonnyman attended Mount Saint Vincent University for her education degree.

“It was a Catholic school, and the sisters were very good to me.”

Bonnyman taught everything from Grade 1 through to Grade 12, teaching for roughly 10 years before moving to Tatamagouche in 1945.

“When I first started here, it was a three-room school,” she said. “We used the church hall for the Grade 7 class.”

The first year of teaching was spent in a school with all grades before she moved to her home school in Riverport, along the LaHave River in Lunenburg County.

From there, she taught in Tiverton, near Digby, for three years. Weymouth was next for another three years, teaching students in the upper grades.

“I taught the subjects I had and did the best I could. I tried to make it interesting (for students),” she said.

Shortly after moving to Tatamagouche, Bonnyman met the man she would eventually marry – Willis Bonnyman. The couple had two sons – John and Billy.

Looking toward the window, Bonnyman said it has been interesting to watch the construction of the new P-12 school.

“It’s hard to comment just looking at the outside. But the design is different than the other schools.”

Teaching at the high school for more than 20 years, Bonnyman laughed when she talked about her sons.

“I would meet John in the hallway and he would say, ‘hi, mom.’ But Billy, he’d look the other way.”

With a big celebration planned over the July 1 weekend, Bonnyman is hoping to attend some of the events as the two schools are given a proper send off.

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Raissa Tetanish
Raissa Tetanish is the new editor and marketing advisor for the Tatamagouche Light. She has more than 11 years experience as a reporter, with a background in both photography and photojournalism. She can be reached at 902-305-6177, or raissatetanish@tatamagouchelight.com.