The first time I heard of John I did a mental stop. I thought “No, his name isn’t really John Smith”. Now when I talk about him to other people they ask me the same thing, “Is his name really John Smith?” Yes, his name is John Smith and he does in fact paint with all the colors of the wind. You can tell this about John from his life experience, which is certainly eclectic. We met when we were involved with the show Leading Ladies. Working with that group is one of my favourite memories I have while being in any show, in part because John was involved. There was a cast and crew of about 12 people and it was a perfect combination. We all meshed so well together and we all genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. John’s first show was done over ten years ago, called Strike at Putney Church where he was on stage with Donna Holmes. He took a long break after that show but has been involved with numerous in the last couple years. Growing up in Truro, Nova Scotia he attended the Cobequid Educational Centre. During high school, he connected with a guidance councillor named Ruth Pulsifer, a staff member that often worked with students that fell through the cracks of life. She made an impact on John by helping him stay out of one those cracks. After John finished high school, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces and subsequently attended Acadia University where he received his B.A. with Honours in political science in 1988. While at Acadia he met his future wife Beth, also a Truro native, who coincidentally happened to be Ruth Pulsifer’s daughter. John and Beth will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this August. After serving for a number of years on the force, a job opened up at Acadia University in the security department where John eventually worked up to the position of Director of Safety and Security. It was around this time that John and Beth welcomed their daughter Jamie into the world. John learned a lot while he worked at Acadia University including how well he was able to give guidance and counselling. John then decided to start a second degree and he received his M.Ed. in Counselling in 2008. Shortly after finishing his master’s degree, John accepted a position at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) as the Manager of Student Services for the Annapolis Valley and Kingstec Campuses. One program that interests John greatly is the Adult Learning Program (ALP). The ALP is a program that is free to students that meet the requirements and allows for high flexibility and individualization for its students, offering them an opportunity to complete their Nova Scotia High School Diploma. Every year there are around 300 – 400 graduates from this program across Nova Scotia and about 40 percent go on to further their education. John wants to help these ALP graduates who want to pursue an even higher level of education. In order to assist them, he created the Determination Fund. It’s an endowment fund that gives an annual return on an investment and the return is given to a prospective ALP graduate to help with their higher education. The endowment goal is $25,000 and the return is $1,000 per year.
To help promote the Determination Fund, John is going to be taking a bike trip around Nova Scotia by himself. And when I say bike, I don’t mean with an engine, I mean the kind with pedals. John is going to start in Wolfville and head around the province in a clockwise direction heading to Windsor, then Truro, up toward Cape Chignecto, Amherst, along the Northumberland Shore, into Cape Breton going north toward Meat Cove, then back south through Sydney and Louisbourg. On his way back toward mainland Nova Scotia he’ll travel along the eastern shore near Guysborough and Sherbrooke, then through the Halifax regional metropolitan area, continuing along the south shore passing Chester, Mahone Bay, and Liverpool. Eventually, he’ll land in Barrington then turn back toward Yarmouth and return to the Annapolis Valley. The whole trip should be in the neighborhood of 3,400 km and John plans to travel close to 80 km per day. Funnily enough, when I asked him what he would be most nervous about he said it would be navigating the area near Halifax.
“When I see someone trying to improve their lot in life through education, I’m all for it”
During his trip, he will be stopping at every NSCC in the province to talk about the ALP, the Determination fund and to find donors that would be willing to contribute. John hopes that his ride will have a lasting effect on people and that some will contribute to the fund even after he finishes. One of the long-term goals he has is to push the endowment to greater heights so that the annual return can help more people in the future. The ride is one of those things where as he told more people about it, the more it became real. For him personally, he said “The point of this is the journey, not the destination.” John is slated to start his ride on August 14, 2017 in association with the NSCC Foundation to try and raise the money needed for his fund to become reality.