Last spring, he learned his full-time job was in jeopardy.
But this fall, he’s ready to rock.
Toronto high school teacher Kevin Doe said while he’s thrilled to have landed a key role in the North American tour of We Will Rock You — which opened last week in Winnipeg and hits Toronto next February — he’s not at all thrilled about all the talent the Ontario government is losing as it phases out 3,500 teaching positions over the next four years.
“At the end of March, we got the first round of budgeting from the Ford government, and at that point I was declared surplus for half my contract,” said Doe, who has worked at York Mills Collegiate for the past four years as an occasional teacher, landing a full-time gig with the Toronto District School Board in January 2018.
Doe, who teaches English, English-as-a-second-language and social sciences, was not optimistic about his job prospects for this fall given his low seniority.
“It was really disheartening at the end of the school year having students upset, angry, sad and crying that all of the younger teachers at the school that they had built relationships with — and a lot of my colleagues who put their heart and soul into new clubs and new programming for the school — were all leaving, they were all gone. It was upsetting to see that.”
While “a fair number of them have been recalled, some very good friends of mine have not” yet been offered a position, other than supply teaching — including one who is considering going back to a job at the Shoppers Drug Mart she worked at while in university.
“I’m really upset,” he added. “That talent is wasted.”
In April, a friend had sent him the information about auditions for the musical — which features the songs of the band Queen — and he was later chosen for the role of Buddy (named after musician Buddy Holly) for the all-Canadian, North American tour.
Doe, who as of Aug. 31 still was relegated to a half-time teaching position, only recently learned he could return to York Mills. But he was already on the road for the show, and has deferred coming back to the Toronto board until next September.
But the 31-year-old said that last spring, “looking down the road then, thinking I might be fully out of work in September” was a huge motivator to seek a change.
“But second to that, or equal to that, as a teacher I always told my students to pursue their dreams, to pursue their passions. I love teaching, but it is my career. My passion, deep down, is theatre.”
Doe, a graduate of Queen’s University and the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, kept up a side acting career while teaching, performing at night after being at school all day.
“I think the skills I am learning on the road, and the perspective I am getting on the road only make me a stronger human, and teacher — and how cool to impart that knowledge on the future generation,” he said in a telephone interview from Fargo, N.D., where he is currently performing.
The production will hit a number of cities including Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York before heading to Toronto next February.
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He said being on stage for the first day of school instead of at the head of the class was jarring.
“I love it, but it was very weird last week — one of my friends was posting back-to-school pictures and I was posting pictures of me on stage at Centennial Hall in Winnipeg. It’s pretty surreal.”