Former Caledonia teacher remembered for post-secondary encouragement

Generations of students passed through John Chen-Wing’s classroom

Former Caledonia teacher John Chen-Wing. (Contributed photo)

The teacher who taught biology to generations of Terrace and area students first at Skeena and then at Caledonia before retiring in 2000 is also being remembered for his contributions to post-secondary education.

John Chen-Wing passed away Nov. 14 in Vancouver after moving to a care facility there a year and a half ago. He was 87.

“Our father understood how meaningful memories and recognition are. This was shown in his sponsorship and many hours put into the Caledonia yearbook and fundraising for scholarships,” said Lisa Chen-Wing, one of three children.

Chen-Wing’s efforts at raising money for scholarships intensified through his running of the Caledonia canteen and his participation on the board of the Northwest 88 Scholarship Foundation, since renamed as the Northwest Scholarship Foundation. It acts as a financial steward of monies donated to assist the post secondary education plans of graduating students.

“Not only did he give students a chance to practice selling, buying and money handling but he raised an amazing amount of money,” said Dawn Martin, a retired educator herself who stepped down as chair of the foundation in 2021.

”John chaired a group of teachers to determine the distribution of scholarship funds to the graduates and he made sure the funds were distributed widely rather than to just a few top students.”

Martin said Chen-Wing also took his passion for students and scholarships into the community.

“He presented very persuasive reasons why you should become a donor with the result that many people and organizations became donors due to his belief in supporting higher education,” she said.

“John was a valuable contributor and member of the Northwest Education ’88’ Foundation and his efforts will be forever appreciated.”

Martin also noted that Chen-Wing was well-regarded as a teacher and that his students included her two own children.

The current chair of the Northwest Education Foundation, retired Caledonia educator Robin MacLeod, first met Chen-Wing in 1978 and also remembered his teaching and extra-curricular activities.

MacLeod spent 21 years sitting on the school’s scholarship committee with Chen-Wing, taking on its chair duties when he retired in 2000.

“Encouraging students, especially in their pursuit of post-secondary education, was very important to John,” she said.

“Each year, he spent innumerable hours with a cadre of students creating the school’s yearbook. If you didn’t catch him on a Sunday afternoon at the school working on the yearbook, you could find him evenings or weekend mornings tutoring students who wanted to do a rewrite or needed some extra tutoring in biology,” she said.

MacLeod also credited Chen-Wing for sitting on the committee that came up with Caledonia’s motto, “Together we aspire; together we achieve.”

Born in 1935 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Chen-Wing came to Canada in 1959 and after attending UBC, came to Terrace in 1965 where he spent four years at Skeena before switching to Caledonia for the next 31 years. Spouse Alice died in 1990.

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