Education is become increasingly sophisticated but at its core Tim Barth believes it comes down to two things — fairness and respect.
Barth said he strove to be both to his students but in return required that they show him and each other the same.
“That’s probably my whole theory of education,” he said.
Barth is retiring this year after more than 19 years of teaching 5th and 6th grade in town.
It took Barth a couple of tries before realizing that teaching Canton children was the way to finish his career.
He came to Canton during the 1972-1973 school year – as a JV soccer and freshman basketball coach. He also began substitute teaching at Canton High School and Canton Intermediate School. The next year, the district hired him as a 5th-grade teacher.
In 1980, he left for the Aetna but continued teaching, this time to adults in the company’s pension training unit.
In 1987 he came back to teach 6th grade.
“I was just missing the kids,” Barth said, adding that the experience did make him a better teacher.
“I could tie school lessons into real-life situations,” he said. “I had done a lot of things normal teacher hadn’t had a chance to do.”
In the fall of 1999 Barth went to teacher 7th- and 8th-grade Math and Social Studies at Metropolitan Learning Center, a magnet in Bloomfield.
In 2004, he came back for good.
“I knew then I was a Canton person,” he said. “I was really missing the community.”
However, Barth has no regrets.
“I learned from all those experiences,” he said. “I really knew as a person what I wanted. I know I wanted to stay here in Canton. Now as it winds down I am going to another segment of my life.”
There’s plenty on Barth's itinerary for the future.
First and foremost will be more time for family, including wife Jean, daughters Sara and Amy and new grandchild, Mason Olivia.
The Barths also plan to travel some, especially out west.
“We just want to explore our own country,” Barth said.
Then, there’s the goal of visiting each major league ballpark. With six down, the Yankees fan has a ways to go.
Barth also plans to put another skill to use. He’s become a legend of the annual l Civil War re-enactment and now plans become an actual re-enactor.
In addition, to the drama of the event, he feels it and related activities such as writing as a Civil War character, really enhanced it for students.
“That’s one of the things the kids remember,” he said.
And he confirmed he is coming back for next year’s event. Barth also plans to go back to his roots and do some substitute teaching at CIS.
He will also be back for nature’s classroom, where kids spend several days at a camp. Working on team building exercises and learning about the outdoors. Barth was formerly director of the program.
“Bar none, the biggest thing they remember about CIS is Nature’s Classroom,” Barth said.
On a smaller, Barth loved to include such real-life events into his lessons and it’s no wonder social studies and math were his favorite subjects to teach.
Not every school day involves such a dramatic event but Barth said he’s tried to keep his classroom fun. He’s incorporated the technology he sees as dramatically changing the future of education but he also worked hard to retain the hands-on, fun classroom environment with classroom characters like “Bonesy” and a stuffed Yankees character. He's also famous for his student nicknames.
Middle school student Austen Swogger, who had Barth for math, said he was now as “Austen from Boston.”
Swogger said Barth also shows an interest in each student and takes the time to learn about them and teach the lessons as well.
“He’s definitely a good educator,” Swogger said.
Barth also made time for “socializing,” and a morning session for the students to talk about their life experiences.
Eight-grader Cassidy Brown had Barth for her 5th-grade teacher and remembers the nicknames, sense of humor and upbeat outlook.
“He was always positive,” she said.
In nearly six years working directly with Barth, Assistant Superintendent and former CIS principal Dr. Jordan Grossman said he always felt Barth wanted to come to work.
“Tim will leave a legacy of his love for children and his love for learning,” Grossman said.
Barth said he won't miss the Sunday night preparations but will miss many things.
“I’m going to miss the kids tremendously and I’m going to miss the people I work with,” Barth said.