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Keith Hart loves substitute teaching
By ANGELA HILL - High River Times


Keith Hart and his championship tag team partner Hubert Gallant in Stampede Wrestling. Photo by Bob Leonard

Anything goes when thereís a substitute teacher in the classroom.

Substitute teacher Keith Hart laughed when he heard that remark.

Traditionally, students perceive a day with a substitute teacher as a day of ridicule and a day off of learning. However, thatís not how it works when a retired pro-wrestler steps in front of the class.

Keith Hart, a member of the famous wrestling Hart family, is a substitute teacher in High River. According to Hart, he has been a "sub" all throughout his wrestling career.

"My mom insisted I have something to fall back on," said Hart. "I had to have a degree."

In the beginning, Hart almost pursued a career as a lawyer, but his father questioned his choice.

"I think youíd be happier as a teacher," his father, Stu Hart told him.

Hart said his father insisted he would leave a larger footprint on Earth as a teacher than a lawyer.

Sure enough, Hart switched gears and heís glad he did.

He began teaching in 1977 in Calgary and is still on the go with both the Christ Redeemer and Foothills School divisions.

Hart admits that he has an advantage over other substitute teachers in that most students recognize him.

"Being a wrestler... I walk in and theyíre really familiar with me and my brother Bret," he said. "So I tell them that if they get their assignments done, then Iíll talk to them about wrestling."

Hart describes substitute teaching as being like an improv entertainer where you donít know your script when you walk in the door.

"One day I had to sub for a computer tech class,"he recalled. "It was so far beyond me, but it opens your mind to whatís happening in their world."

Hart said that one of the advantages of being a substitute teacher is that when he steps into a classroom everything is new -- new students, new subject and a new school.

In addition, he said itís good for his mind.

"I get to review subjects like math," he said. "Get to see old stuff and new stuff."

Hart also enjoys the flexibility of not working full-time.

"If I want to take a day off and head down to the cabin with my family, I can," he said.

Even though heís a tough guy, Hart said there have been some classes, which have tested his strength.

"Every once in a while I get a class that doesnít know me," he said. "I canít let the kids get under my skin."

Hartís strategy when he finds himself in front of a difficult class is to red flag the trouble students early and as soon as they start to act up, he removes them from the class.

"I remove the agitators from the audience," he said. "I send them out to the hall and sometimes they donít come back."

Classrooms are like hitting the trenches with children and Hart said he takes it as a challenge.

"Thereís no class I canít win over," he said.

Hart does admit that there have been some schools over his career, which he dreaded getting a call from.

"I just got to remember that itís just one day," he said.

Hart said High River schools are some of the best. "Iíve never been in nicer schools," he said. "I could stay here until they throw me out."

He said the students heís seeing coming out of local schools give him hope for the future.

"These young kids coming up, make you think the worldís not in such bad shape," he said. "Gives me confidence for the future."

Substitute teachers like Hart were recognized across the province in last weekís annual Substitute Teacher Appreciation Week.

Itís a time to appreciate the hard work and dedicated work of these fill-ins.

RELATED LINKS

  • June 18, 2006: Catching up with Keith Hart
  • More on The Hart Family
  • The Canadian Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame

    Angela Hill is the Interim Editor of the High River Times.