Heather Smith (1959-2019): Goodbye to a passionate teacher and leader

published 4 July 2019 updated 10 July 2019

The international education trade union movement has lost a valued member. After a brief illness, Heather Smith passed away peacefully on June 30th, in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. With a teaching career spanning 34 years, Heather was tireless in her work to improve the daily lives of teachers and students in Canada.

Heather’s professional path began with a bachelor’s degree in child study, with majors in Elementary and Special Education. She worked as a Grade 4 teacher for several years and then taught Kindergarten in the first year this grade was introduced. Always eager to learn, Heather completed a Master’s degree of Education in Literacy. During this time, she was offered her first Acting Principal position, a job she enjoyed and at which she excelled. She would go on to work as principle for the next 13 years.

Her achievements were recognised at the national level when she was the only New Brunswick educator named by the Learning Partnership as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals in 2011.

Heather was also a leader and a champion for teachers in Canada. From 2011 to 2013 she was President of New Brunswick Teachers’ Association (NBTA) and from 2015 to 2017 she was President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), where she worked to represent the high ideals of the organisation on both the national and international stage.

Remembering Heather, David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, said: “At EI, we have always valued and admired Heather’s passion for teaching, her knowledge, her readiness to share her know-how and experience in order to further the profession and the trade union movement. She will be sorely missed by her many friends and colleagues from across the world. But her passion for quality education will live on in the people she taught and mentored throughout her rich and selfless life.”