UTS took retired UTS English Teacher Dr. Gillian Bartlett’s favourite assignment – writing a letter to the editor – to an entirely new dimension, when her two F1 (Grade 7) classes challenged David Cope’s classes to a contest in December 2000.
“The competitive spirit of UTS rose to the challenge and we had 40 letters published in the Toronto Star in one month!” says Gillian. “Sometimes, three or four letters by UTS students were printed on the same day.” Gillian posted the editorial pages with students’ letters in the main hallway and by the end of the month the hall was full. “It was exhilarating. I look back on that month with sheer joy.”
Experiences like this, and her “profound and lifelong respect for intellectual achievement” are why Gillian remains a devoted UTS supporter years after she left the school in 2003.
An ardent feminist, Gillian supported the First Girls’ Initiative, and as a lifelong supporter of the University of Toronto, feels that UTS is a significant part of the university.
In Gillian’s five years at our school she worked amongst “legends” in the English Department such as the late Judith Mills, and Scott Baker, who is her oldest friend, dating back to when she was just 13. “Scott was Mr. UTS English,” she says. “He was a miraculous teacher. His breadth of knowledge and devotion to the job were amazing. He was dearly loved and admired by his students from whom he was always able to draw the very best work.”
Gillian describes Judith, who passed away in 2017, as having a wonderful Victorian air about her, refined, polite and very caring.
Not only did Gillian work with legends at UTS, but she taught in what she calls a “legendary classroom” on the main floor, a beautiful room with lovely windows but only one electrical outlet that worked. Her office was a former coat closet, so she has a deep appreciation of what it means for UTS staff and students to have a stunning new home. “The renewed building will enrich the education for UTS students with top-of-the-line professional facilities.”