Gary Allan: 1946 – 2001

Gary Allan photoA graduate of Nelson High School, Gary Allan was an incredible teacher who had a lifelong passion for learning. Gary began his career path as a chef and then entered the teaching profession in 1969, first in Hamilton and then at General Brock High School in Burlington in 1976, becoming the first Technical Director at E.C. Drury High School in Milton.

In 1983, Gary was appointed first Head of the Self-Reliant Learning Program, an innovation designed for students who were having difficulty in school, with programs where learning was tailored to the individual’s needs. Flexible timetabling provided opportunities to take classes during the daytime, as well as evenings and weekends. Under Gary’s leadership the program grew and the Milton site was soon added.

Gary understood that students entered the programs for a variety of reasons and with diverse needs. If they needed something that was not offered, he was determined to find a way to help them and thus Gary and the staff committed to do “whatever it takes” to encourage their students. Adults and adolescents alike responded to the opportunity to return to school and an extraordinary learning environment was nurtured.

In 1990, the Self-Reliant sites combined with the Adult Learner Program to form the Adult High School. In an effort to provide service to a greater spectrum of learners, Gary shepherded the expansion of programs into all regions of Halton, including Acton, Burlington, Georgetown, Milton, and Oakville, introducing programs for Teen Moms and the forerunner to STEP – Futures. As an entrepreneur, he developed partnerships with Human Resources Development Canada to provide training programs for displaced workers. In co-operation with Halton Region, the On Track program was started for social assistance recipients.

Today, the majority of our programs can be traced to Gary’s innovative and determined spirit. With the addition of programs such as Online courses, Night School, Summer School, International and Indigenous Languages Program (Elementary), and Literacy & Numeracy Remediation, we continue to strive to reach out to learners across the school district.

By 1998, failing health forced Gary to take a leave from his position as Program Manager of the Adult High School, but his wise counsel and philosophy continued to guide much of the work of the school. He often remarked that it wasn’t what you taught, or how you taught it, but to whom you taught it, that was most important. He believed that if it was educationally sound, it was administratively possible.

Sadly, Gary passed away in December of 2001. His work to encourage lifelong learning, through providing accessible & innovative programs across the school district, continues to enhance educational opportunities in Halton.