Mayfield Highlight #11: Ken Stern

How are y'all doing, Mavs?🐮 Today, we have Ken Stern as our highlight! Ken Stern was an English and Drama teacher at Mayfield for various years and a whopping 37 total years as an educator. Stern witnessed the infancy of the Regional Arts Program first hand as the Head of Drama just four years after its creation. Stern was courteous enough to share with us a snippet of his time at Mayfield, touching on items such as the student life and culture as well as his and his student's success in Drama and extracurricular activities. Please enjoy, Ken Stern's Highlight!: Mayfield has been a huge part of my life. I was hired by Principal Ken Shore to teach English and Drama in 1972... Back then Mayfield was a country school serving Caledon. The students’ surnames could be read on many mailboxes at the ends of long driveways leading to houses and barns. Each year at the Royal Winter Fair many kids were away from school, showing livestock and demonstrating their skills. Not everybody was a farmer: there were “country club” kids and small-town kids as well. We had school dances with live bands (Triumph was a highlight) I directed 5 musicals in those years (Guys and Dolls, The Music Man, Annie Get Your Gun, Anne of Green Gables, and Damn Yankees). The shows were big events in the life of the school and all kinds of kids got involved including star athletes. It was so completely different from my own experience at Bronx High School of Science in New York City.

13 years later after stints at Clarkson and Cawthra Park I was hired by David Craig as Head of Drama. I was now a married man with 3 children, the fourth arrived in the first week of my new job! The Regional Arts Program at Mayfield was about 4 years old and we were still finding our way, trying to ensure that what we were offering was worth the travel, the expense, the specialized program. The school now drew from a larger area, Peel north of the 401, and was on its way to becoming a more suburban, rather than rural school. I was very excited to be part of building a new program dedicated to excellence in the arts. The highlights of my life in teaching were the shows: Oliver, Babes in Arms, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Cabaret, Pippin, Carousel, Twelfth Night, Three Penny Opera, Bye Bye Birdie, Ah, Wilderness, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Picnic. We also had great success in the Sears Drama Festival (Barn Mice, 15-Minute Hamlet, Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist, The Russian Play are a few that come to mind) I loved our end-of-year showcases, topical, student-written, very funny and original work. We travelled with senior Drama students to New York City every second year to see plays and musicals and museums, good times, great memories. We made film-making a part of our program, and many students went on to further study and careers in this field. We had our own Newsletter, The Spotlight, written and edited by students. We started a student Film Festival. I retired in 2009 and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss teaching but 37 years is a long career. I started making documentary videos on seniors’ issues for a variety of non-profit agencies in Peel. Sometimes I was able to use ex-students or current students in these projects. A year ago I retired again. I still enjoy directing plays and I’ve done several for community theatres, first in Oakville, and now in Toronto. I’m fortunate to have my four children living in Toronto. I see them frequently, including my five grandchildren. I see a lot of theatre and movies and am always thrilled to see former students performing or in the audience. I’ve had this reunion on my calendar for long time and I’m looking forward to sharing memories of good times. -Ken Stern

Thank you Ken Stern for sharing your good times and we're looking forward to hearing more of your great memories! Mavs, thanks for tuning in to our amazing Mayfield Highlight, Ken Stern, and we will catch you next week! -Mayfield 50 Communications Team.

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