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Profile 3 – Elizabeth Turcke

By Christine Hamelin
with photography by Kat Kopiak

Elizabeth Turcke feels that pretty much everything in her early life, and even her parents’ experiences with teaching and learning, have led her to where she is today. The founder and head of school at Leahurst College, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Elizabeth remains true to the school’s motto, “Dream big, work hard, be nice.”

Her father, Lindsay Humphries, grew up in Montreal during the Depression. “He had a really tough life,” says Elizabeth. “His father died when he was eight, and his paper route basically fed the family.” Lindsay would collect pieces of coal that had fallen off freight trains to keep the family warm. When a neighbour suggested he go to the Montreal Technical School and request a scholarship, he followed the advice. He was trained in electrical, plumbing and soldering and forging metal and went on to have a successful career in quality control in the nuclear and aircraft industries. Elizabeth never forgot how that scholarship turned her father’s life around.

Her mother, Doreen Noel, was raised on a farm in Alberta. Her father was born with half an arm, and so his mother ensured that he was well educated; he became a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. His wife ran the family farm, using and fixing the heavy machinery. Doreen, taught by her father, “finished school early and went to University of Alberta at 15 years old . . .