A: I started at the College in 1999 when it was still a smaller institution. My neighbour who lived across the street, Ms. Annie Goldstein (TAV College Special Measures Coordinator), told me that she knows of a job opportunity that I would be really good at. I wasn’t sure about the job at first because before TAV, all I had ever taught throughout my teaching career was preschool up until the ninth grade. TAV was really my first time teaching a group of adult students; regardless, I decided to give it a shot and loved it.
Q: What was it like here at TAV in the beginning?
A: The College wasn’t always like the one it is today, in fact, my first classroom had a massive hole in the floor in the middle of the room. In the winter, we would sit in the classrooms and freeze because the building was very old and had a bad heating system.
Q: Why did you stay under those conditions?
A: Because I HAD to teach. This is truly my calling in life; my passion and I knew that this place was going to grow.
Q: Can you tell me about the history of the College (from your perspective)?
A: I started with about 15 students. All of the students were religious because, at the time, our agreement with the government of Quebec was that we were an academic institution offering educational services to the (Jewish) religious community of Montreal, exclusively. However, year after year, the annual enrollment grew tremendously, especially when the government of Quebec put into effect a law which stated that preschool/daycare teachers had to have a degree. After this law came into effect, all of a sudden, TAV’s enrollment jumped to the hundreds and this is really how we took off as an institution.
Q: What was it like teaching at the College level for the first time?
A: As I said, teaching here at TAV was one of my first experiences as an educator working with adult students. With that being said, I was extremely nervous for my first day. In fact, I prepared a document the day before of word-for-word what I was going to say to all of my students. I wrote down something like “Hello. My name is Robyne Garellek. This is what I’m teaching…” I had every word written down that I was going to say for the whole three hours. I went home at the end of that first day and my husband asked me how my day went, to which I replied in a sarcastic tone “Ha, they think I’m smart.”
Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?
A: For me, it’s really all about the actual teaching: the discussions, the give-and-take. I really care so much about my students actually learning something; I don’t like to stand and lecture. In fact, I always send my class notes beforehand so that my students don’t have to sit in class and write anything, instead, they can actually listen, interact and learn.
Q: What does TAV mean to you?
A: TAV is my home. I always tell my husband “they’re going to bury me here [jokingly].” In all seriousness, I just love it here, the administration and teaching staff are just amazing, everyone is always quick to help each other and we really are like a family here. The directors always make time for you no matter what.
Enrico Quilico is not your average teacher. He is not only an inspiring individual and a workaholic, but he is also a disciplined athlete.
In 2016, Enrico took part in the Ironman triathlon. This race is an extreme, world renowned racing franchise that takes place in various locations each year, followed by a World Championship. The “Ironman” is one of several long distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation. The particular race that Enrico participated in consisted of a three-point-eight kilometer swim, followed by a one-hundred-eighty kilometer bike ride, finishing with a forty-two kilometer run. In total, Quilico conquered over two-hundred-twenty-five kilometers of terrain.
Enrico has been participating in marathons for the past ten years. He has ran one full Ironman, as well as other various Olympic distance triathlons. As a whole, he has participated in over twenty triathlons over the past ten years and is extremely passionate about the races. For Quilico, the races are an integral component not only for his physical health, but also, for his career as both a teacher and a doctoral candidate. He believes the races teach him unequivocal discipline and the demonstration of achieving a goal through hard work. Quilico then applies the same strategies to teaching that he does to training and running races. However, he wasn’t always this way.
During his youth, he was not very active, competitive or athletic. After high school, Enrico suffered a life threatening accident while riding his motorcycle on the highway at the age of twenty-three. The accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury and put him in a coma for nearly two weeks. However, he pulled through and recovered. After spending two months in the hospital, Quilico then spent two years in rehabilitation. It was in the rehabilitation department where actually had to re-learn how to walk, talk, and speak again. This near death experience was a “wake-up call” for him and also where he fostered a new outlook on life. He grew motivation to return to school, as well as started taking his physical health more seriously. In 2008, Quilico participated in his first sprint triathlon and fell in love. From here, he set the goal of completing a full triathlon. In 2016, in recognition of ten years after his accident, Quilico set the goal and completed his first Ironman triathlon; His proudest achievement. He was also able to raise over $10,000 for Brain Injury Canada, a post-trauma research foundation based in Ottawa. Recently, he has participated in the half Ironman, which took place in Montreal last September.
According to Quilico, his greatest athletic accomplishment is undoubtedly his participation in the Ironman races. He stated that the 2016 triathlon was the “high point” of his life as he completed the Ironman in just twelve hours. The race is restricted to a seventeen hour maximum time limit. Also, in 2011, he won a national prize in the eight-hundred meter swim at the Master Swimming Canada competition, which also included a gold medal.
Enrico re-enrolled at Concordia University in 2012, eventually earning a Bachelor of Education degree. Then, in 2015, he earned a (research-based) Master’s degree from McGill University in Kinesiology. He is also a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto where his dissertation revolves around the research of community-based exercise programs for people who suffered from traumatic brain injuries. His research is being supported by the federal and provincial government.
Finally, he found TAV College. First employed as a part-time fitness instructor, Quilico quickly came to assume more responsibilities and was eventually brought on as an English teacher at TAV. Aside from his academic life, he is a personal trainer at the downtown YMCA and runs an adapted physical activity program for people who have had traumatic brain injuries. Further, he assists the intellectually disabled and others with post-traumatic brain injuries as a small way to give back. He also holds seminars with teens at the gym about the advantages of a healthy lifestyle. This teacher indefinitely has a story not only worth telling, but one that we can all learn from.