Eastern Journey Stories
I met Kent in 1975 as an 18-year-old freshman at Acadia University. He was a 26-year-old teacher returning to school to up his credentials. While I was forging my path, Kent already knew his. He grew up in a tiny Nova Scotian fishing village and ultimately applied his considerable talent to impact the lives in the small community he loved. During his teaching career he developed a measurable performance-improving math program, received a rare Canadian Prime Minister’s Award, was honored by Furman University in the United States, and received an offer from the UAE. Upon retiring from Lockeport High School, the latter hired him as a Cluster Manager at the Abu Dhabi Education Council in 2007. He was one of a very few select teachers from around the world to help that country modernize its educational system.
Kent also found his way into the Nova Scotian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. During his tenure at LRHS, Kent coached more provincial championships in basketball than any other coach in the province's history. His team, while classified at the “B” level, often competed on an equal footing with “A” teams. John Wooden, the renowned UCLA coach who Kent met on two occasions, influenced his coaching and philosophy most notably via Wooden’s famous Pyramid of Success. Kent imbued that philosophy deep into the hearts and minds of his students
Although I did not know it at the time we met, Kent is of middle eastern descent. As such, he had darker skin in his youth and this led to painful, discriminatory experiences growing up. However, he was blessed with highly supportive parents who he identified as the most influential people in his life and described his family ethos as supportive, generous, adventurous, and unique. This environment inspired him to achieve and to think creatively. Kent is the father of two accomplished sons, Shea & Josh, but in 1991 he experienced the most painful event of his life. He said that it took 8-9 years to overcome the trauma of a divorce. That time frame aligns with Bruce Feiler’s conclusion as noted in his book, Life is in the Transitions. Today, Kent serves on the town council.
Kent, a two-time cancer survivor, like any great teacher lives a philosophical life and carries a primary goal of serving others. His study, while in the UAE, into the etymological meaning of his last name yielded “to serve and expect nothing in return.” How fitting!
Perhaps the most notable aspect about Kent’s life pertains to his decision to stay in a small village despite his immense talent. I recall my American sociology professor at Acadia who was born and educated in New York City and who could not stress enough how much he loved the people in the fishing villages of Nova Scotia. I think Kent was attuned to this thinking and recognized all that he had right where he was born. I am not sure many ambitious people would have made the same decision. How many people can claim achievements that garner local, national, and international recognition? Kent achieved that from his hometown of tiny Lockeport, Nova Scotia. An extraordinary life!