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INTO THE GREAT UNKNOWN: It might look like a scene from the movie The Fog or maybe The Mist, but a week ago the Mill Pond was a foreboding sight as the region was placed under a fog advisory.

Sheik takes passion for

teaching around the world

by Scott Taylor

        Joe Sheik knows that teaching doesn't stop when the afternoon bell rings or, for that matter, when the doors of his school close behind him for the final time.
        The former principal of River Heights public school left the halls of formal education last spring to continue on with his lifelong quest to spread the gospel of education as far and wide as he can.
        Most recently, he has been working on his initiative called The Time Project, a global endeavour that aims to enable young people from many different cultures and countries to meet each other in the virtual village, interact and communicate face to face on current issues such as sustainable environmental issues, to human rights issues, social justice topics and related topics of global concern.
        The goal is for these students to get to know others like them from around the world, thus creating empathy and understanding.
        This past fall, he was in Brazil training teachers for a private education company, which wouldn't surprise anyone that knows him.
        One might wonder how he's dealing with the change of pace from normal school days and their entrenched routines, but school at River Heights was anything but routine during the worst of the COVID years when no one knew what to expect from week to week. Sheik weathered that storm and then charted his own course. He's pleased with how things have been turning out. Still, when the beginning of September arrived, he felt a little out of sorts.
        "You do one thing for 34 years - and it was never a job, it's my passion, it's who I am - so I was completely thrown off. The funny thing is I went out seeking experiences just because I was missing it so much. So, I thought I'll be at the cottage, somewhere different, but I have a number of friends I play tennis with up there and they're teachers. I had this tradition of bringing coffee and I made breakfast for my faculty the first Friday to say, 'we're back, it's been a hard, short week' and I make breakfast. So, I took coffee out to these schools where my tennis buddies work just to simulate what I've always done on that first Friday. I know, it sounds weird."
        Sheik's successor at River Heights is Bev Bolton, a highly regarded educator in her own right, whose partner is the principal at recently opened Summerside public school. Sheik is a big fan of both.
        "She's more than capable. Oh my god, she is a talented and highly experienced administrator, and the school is really lucky to have her. I feel so good that my team - her team now - is in such good hands."
        The Time Project began in 1995 and is sponsored by UNESCO. It's designed to teach human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability.
        "The idea was for kids to be with each other face to face and so if they could interact with each other in a variety of mediums, they could become the new leaders of the world. It was all about global citizenship long before that was a thing."
        He began as one of the participating teachers in 1995 and became the director of the project in 2010. Locally, Lord Dorchester and Northdale schools are part of The Time Project.
        Video conferencing around the world was challenging at first because few teachers had taught that way, but Sheik said the pandemic brought everyone up to speed quickly. That has given The Time Project the stage it needed to reach people around the world.
        And so, the man whose mother instilled in him the value of education from an early age, continues to share that love to everyone he can reach. These days, that reach is worldwide.

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