Frank Piccolo, Larry Bobbie and Skip Bailey were the three friends of Korah Collegiate in the 1970s
So far these profiles have all focused on some great people who are still hanging out and living here with us. I need to write about three people who have impacted my life in a very influential and positive way, and so here is their posthumous story.
Perhaps the greatest of all professions is that of teaching. No one except our parents can have as much influence on a life as a good teacher can. I have to tell you the story of three of the greatest, three of the best, three teachers that I will always remember. I call them the Three Amigos because they were also the best friends in the world.
Yes, that’s the legend of Frank Piccolo, Larry Bobbie and Skip Bailey, three Korah Collegiate teachers in the 1970s. Frank was a chemistry teacher, Larry was a guidance counselor, and Skip was a biology teacher. All three had graduated from Teachers’ School around the same time, all three were relatively young beginners, fresh and energetic in the craft, and all three were masters at their craft.
Larry was my badminton coach (he produced a ton of provincial level players), and he guided me through those crazy high school years, Frank and Skip taught me several classes during the high school period, and all of them. the three of them became my friends after high school. graduation from school. The saddest thing about their story is that all three died relatively young, and long before they were done giving of themselves to the people of this planet. I miss them all dearly.
The Three Amigos were the core of Koré’s teaching staff at the time. And you had to remember Korah was a tough West End school in the ’70s. It wasn’t the shining star she is today with the Baccalaureate curriculum, all the star sports programs, and the academic ratings. which dominate the region. The children of Bayview, the farming community of Prince and Baseline Township, the Gros Cap gang, and children of working-class parents made up the role of the students. They were difficult children, and Kore’s teachers had their work cut out for us to keep us on the right path.
And the Three Amigos, the three fools you might call them, knew what they had to do. They loved these difficult students in their care and they showed their love with dedication, empathy and compassion to all of us. If that meant dressing up as rock stars for the Christmas gig, and hammering on electric guitars and syncing lyrics to KISS tracks, then that’s what they did. The children have gone mad. I liked them. Encouraged them like real rock stars.
If that meant planning a huge day off in the middle of winter to give us a huge winter carnival, with teams competing in winter games on snow, ice and hardwood, then this is what they and the other teachers would do. These guys put on the aprons and ran the barbecue canteen that fed eleven hundred kids’ sausages and hot dogs at these special events.
And if that meant sitting one-on-one with a kid who was struggling with the concept of the periodic table in chemistry, or how a bullfrog’s digestive system works, then they would provide the extra help needed. This is exactly what they did. They took care of each student in their charge.
Their classes were extremely entertaining and I truly believe they set up their classroom as a stage production that they rehearsed and prepared well in advance. Engaging, lively and fun to experience comes to mind. Can you imagine a fun chemistry or biology class? These guys could get away with it.
And to really get to know the students for whom they are responsible, they are all involved in sports training. You see kids on a whole new level when you train them, and these guys were so generous with their time and commitment to the children of Korah.
Larry will perhaps stay in my mind as the greatest high school coach who ever lived. He got into badminton and these hardened young people out of the west, and he created athletes who competed at the Ontario level. Regardless of the city championships and NOSSA, we wanted to participate in OFSAA. He brought us there with a love and knowledge of the game, and a love for us.
When I attended teachers college, our teachers and instructors always told us, no matter what the pedagogy and learning here, you will all teach the same as your favorite teachers in your days at school. I tried to model their behavior and their way of being in my own years as a teacher. I hope I was able to get out of it.
And so I mention these Three Amigos because I know that we all have teachers in our lives who have inspired and motivated us to reach for the stars, or to reach for the heavens, or to reach anything.
These guys did it for me, and I’m forever grateful to them.
I guess in hindsight, with the help and generous spirit of Frank, Larry, Skip, and their fellow teachers, Korah Collegiate was truly a shining star in the early 1970s.
And I’d bet that up there somewhere in the other world, Frank kicks Skip’s ass at racquetball, Skip brags that he really won the game, and Larry advises them both. get along and work together as a team.
It was the best team. Thank you gentlemen.
I hope your families all have a blessed and joyful Christmas, and know that the three of you are right next to them.
Your student and your friend, Frank O’Connor
Frank O’Connor and his wife Gail own and operate Voyageur Lodge and Cookhouse in Batchawana Bay. He writes one profile daily through December 24, featuring people who have given back to their community in a positive way through their good deeds and hard work.