Coach Oozeer to wrap up teaching career

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Oozeer_Coachby Sylene Argent

With an infectious smile, kind words, and plenty of advice that has aided students on and off the court, long-time Colchester North Public School teacher and athletics coach Izzy Oozeer has made an impact on the lives of many.

Having taught at Colchester North for 30 years, Oozeer will retire at the end of this school year.

“I got into a great community and enjoyed being here. I connected with the kids and the community,” Oozeer said, reflecting on his career as an educator. “The kids here made it enjoyable.”

Oozeer has been a popular teacher for the students at Colchester North Public School over the years. And one of the many reasons why was because his favourite part of the day is being able to greet the youth in the morning as they get off the bus as himself, not as a teacher or disciplinarian.

Recently, a supply teacher approached Oozeer after noticing him interact with all the students and commented he was like a “rock star” at the school. The supply was surprised he knew all of the students’ names, which Oozeer commented is one of the great things about being part of a small-school community.

Colchester North Public School currently has around 220 students, and Oozeer has taught the parents of 31 of those current pupils. He has enjoyed being able to watch families grow and see and hear about the successes of former students and athletes he has taught and coached. He credits being able to teach several members of the same family to the small, close-knit school community. When getting a new student who happens to be the younger sibling of other students he has taught works well for him and the student as there is already a connection with the family and forms trust.

Larger schools, he commented, often are lacking that family atmosphere small schools provide. The attitude of the students at Colchester North is similar to that of three decades ago when he began teaching. That “speaks volumes about small communities,” he said.

Oozeer has always been heavily involved with athletics. For 28 of the past 30 years, he has been the Presidents of the Greater Essex County School Board’s Athletics Board. He got involved at that level because he believed in ensuring sports are provided for students, and the best way he thought he could do that was by being at the top of the Board.

Colchester North is known for its great athletics program. For instance, the boys’ volleyball team has been the best team six of the last eight years. But that wasn’t always been the case. He recalled when first starting to work at the school, the school’s athletic teams were not so hot. The boys’ and girls’ teams had to share uniforms.

With some discussions with the parent council, uniforms no longer had to be shared. Just looking better helped change the perspective of the students into one that was more positive. Soon, with positive thinking and better self-image, the athletic teams began to do better on the court.

Being involved in sports,” Gives the students a direct parallel to real life,” Oozeer commented. They will have good days and bad. They will have to play for a coach and with teammates they may not agree or get along with. “The end product is being a part of that team.”

There has to be a perfect formula for athletic success, he noted. The leadership has to be there, but the students need to commit, and parents and caregivers have to be on board to get their children to games and practices.

But, success isn’t always about winning to Oozeer. Success is measured through hard work paying off.
The school motto is, “Once a colt, always a colt.” And in keeping with that, Oozeer enjoys showing support to former students. Every year, he presents flowers to former Colchester North students when they graduate from Essex District High School. He also takes time to watch them play in high school athletics. The students appreciate that support, he noted.

When Oozeer began teaching at Colchester North, he joined the teaching squad there that included another popular teacher, Frank Mazzara, who recently passed away. The two would teach together for 16 years.

Oozeer said he decided to retire because it was time to be able to go on and accomplish other things in his life, but that doesn’t mean he will not be around. He plans to promote fitness in the community, though he is not quite sure how he will approach this new avenue.

The decision to retire was an easy one to make because he knows teachers like Mr. Klassen and Mrs. Ross will carry on the dedication torch for the school’s athletics. He recalls Mazzara making the same comment years ago before he retired.

“Knowing that makes it easier,” he said.

Former students and athletes are invited to join Oozeer at an open house to take place at Colchester North Public School on Friday, June 23 from 4 to 7 p.m. At first, Oozeer did not want any special treatment, but changed his mind when he thought about all of the former students and athletes he would enjoy reconnecting with to see how they turned out.

Though many have said Oozeer’s students have been lucky, he believes he is the lucky one to have been able to be a part of the Colchester North family for his entire teaching career.