After 40 years of teaching, beloved Ecole Margaret Jenkins School teacher Steven Toleikis is retiring on Dec. 31.
Toleikis, who students refer to as Mr.T, has been a favorite with both students and teachers alike. The popular educator, famous for his colourful neckties, has received hundreds of letters and cards over the years from children and families letting him know that he has changed their lives. Former students keep in touch and often make return visits to his classroom. To his colleagues, Toleikis has been a model of support, professionalism and integrity.
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Toleikis graduated in 1972 from Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications & Theatre. After immigrating to Canada, he first worked as a child care worker with special needs children. Later, Toleikis enrolled in the Faculty of Education at UVic, graduating with a Dip. Ed. (specializing in Primary education) in May, 1977. He began his teaching career with SD #61 that same month in a class of children with communication and sensory integration disorders at Sir James Douglas School. Since then his career has taken him to teach diverse populations in schools all over the District. Later, he returned to UVic part time, graduating with an MA in Educational Psychology in 1991. From 1991 to 2006 he taught at Monterey Elementary School. In 2006, when Monterey became a middle school, Toleikis moved the few blocks to Margaret Jenkins Elementary where he has continued to teach the children of South Oak Bay and Fairfield.
A highlight of Toleikis’ career was winning first prize in an essay contest for teachers. He wrote about how to teach science by harnessing children’s wonder and hunger to know. He won an all expenses paid trip to the Canadian Space Agency in Montreal. He received cutting edge science instruction, learned about the Canadarm and met astronauts. A photograph of him taken with Astronaut Chris Hadfield remains one of his great treasures.
Toleikis has also had an active volunteer life in the community. He served on the Oak Bay Centennial Committee – his name appears among those on the Oak Bay Centennial Clock on Oak Bay Avenue.
There will be a retirement celebration held at Margaret Jenkins School on Thursday, Dec. 7. If you are interested in attending or have any stories or memories to share, please contact Ashley Frketich firstname.lastname@example.org by Dec. 1.