Eighty-four-year-old Gordon Wallbank decided that no matter how old you are, it is never too late to learn.
Just last month, he earned his high school diploma.
Wallbank lives in Lanark, Ontario and decided last summer to complete his high school credentials and earn his Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
With three daughters, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Wallbank says he was inspired by his family’s own educational pursuits and achievements.
“All around me, I’ve been surrounded by people who have done well in school. I thought, well I think I’d better do something about this,” he explains, outlining that he left school in Grade 9 after his dad told him drop out so he could start working to make money. “Education wasn’t a priority like it is today. But when I decided to go back, I had a lot of encouragement from my family.”
Enrolling with the TR Leger School of Adult and Continuing Education, Wallbank worked with four staff members over the course of the academic year at the Lanark site. Earning credits for non-academic life experience, he required four credits to earn his diploma.
To do so, he completed 40 lessons beginning last September 2020, and worked his way through the lessons over the school year through the TR Leger Lanark site.
His toughest lesson? Fractions.
“I had a problem with fractions, and one of the teachers worked with me intensely, and finally I saw the light and was able to do them,” he says with a laugh. “All of the instructors were very helpful, and they would work with me until got the problem solved.”
Wallbank had a successful 33-year career at the National Film Board of Canada in which he retired from in 1994. In 1999, he moved to Lanark and for 20 years where he drove a school bus – a job he absolutely loved. He retired from driving the bus in 2019.
Outside of his studies, Wallbank has a range of hobbies including boating, cross-country skiing, and dancing. He says it’s important to stay active and continue to discover new interests.
“I love to learn, and if you don’t keep moving and learning, then that’s when you slow down,” he says.
Now that he’s graduated from high school, he says he’d love to take culinary classes as he enjoys cooking and baking – tortieres are his specialty.
As for offering insight to others about pursuing their high school diploma, Wallbank provides one piece of advice.
“Get an education,” he says. “Stay in school as you need it for your future. It’s there for a reason and gives you a good start.”