Regina is mourning the loss of one of the giants within the local education community.
Jack MacKenzie, who has a school named after him in the east end of the city, died Wednesday at the age of 90.
Brad Howard became the principal at Jack MacKenzie Elementary School about 13 years ago and that was the first time he met MacKenzie but he has remained in contact with him ever since then.
Howard said MacKenzie was “as genuine as a guy there ever was” and was incredibly humble.
“Living well and treating everything on this earth with dignity and respect and that’s kind of how Jack was,” Howard said. “We need more Jack MacKenzies in this world and when you lose one, it’s really hard.”
He said MacKenzie knew each and every one of the students who attended his school and would show up at every event the school held.
“Our students knew Jack as the person, not the name of the school.”
Howard said MacKenzie was about two things in his life — kindness and effort.
The school’s logo is: “Where effort and kindness count.”
“He displayed that to every single student in our building,” Howard said.
Those lessons remained with students who graduated from the school. Howard said he remembers a time when he was reffing a high school hockey game after he left the school and one of his former students was there.
“He picked up the puck for me and he flipped it to me and I thanked him for it and I think he had been out of the school for four years at that point and he said ‘Well you know Mr. Howard, I’m a Jack MacKenzie kid where kindness counts.’”
He said all the students loved him and he loved all of his students as if they were a part of his family.
“I ran into a parent (Thursday) that said her children are in their 20s now and when they heard Jack passed they started crying so that’s the kind of impact he had on the kids.”
MacKenzie was the physical education consultant with Regina Public Schools and was influential in creating many of the phys ed. programs implemented in schools today, including outdoor education.
“Jack used to always tell me ‘Brad, the real learning takes place outside this building, it takes place out in the world where the kids can really learn.’”
Howard said he saw MacKenzie the day before he died and MacKenzie was beginning to say his farewells.
“Jack was continually gracious, he was thanking the people for their friendship as he was holding their hand and saying their final goodbyes,” Howard said.
“That’s just Jack, just a gracious, thankful man.”
The school is holding a memorial for its MacKenzie on Friday.