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A life in education

Marie Poburan remembered as devoted teacher, principal

By: Susan Jones

  |  Posted: Saturday, Mar 16, 2013 06:00 am

DETERMINED – Marie Poburan is remembered for her quiet strength and leadership in developing the French immersion program in St. Albert's Catholic schools.
DETERMINED – Marie Poburan is remembered for her quiet strength and leadership in developing the French immersion program in St. Albert's Catholic schools.
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Marie Poburan, who taught school for 35 years in St. Albert, has died. Funeral services were held Monday.

Poburan, who was 80 and had been ill for some time, passed away March 2 of congestive heart failure.

Poburan was an elementary school teacher. She began her teaching career in her hometown of St. Paul, Alta. but after moving to Edmonton in 1959 with her husband Peter and their children, she began teaching at Father Lacombe School.

Marie Gamache-Hauptman, who is the principal at Ecole Marie Poburan, knew the school's namesake well and remembers Poburan as a leader and a mentor, who had a profound effect on her own life.

"She was instrumental in our school division. She took the bull by the horns and helped develop the French immersion program in the Catholic Division. From that small seed, which she began as principal at Ecole Father Jan, the program has grown until now we have two elementary French immersion schools, as well as junior and senior high schools. More than 1500 students are registered in French immersion," Gamache-Hauptman said.

Gamache-Hauptman explained that Poburan had an easygoing way that invited conversation.

"I'll never forget my first interview with her, after I had just graduated as a teacher. Five minutes into it, I was completely relaxed because Marie had a way of putting you at ease," Gamache-Hauptman said.

Soon into her first year of teaching, Gamache-Hauptman recalled, Poburan approached her and suggested that she get more involved in the community-schooling program of the day.

"She saw the leader in me before I did. She had the capacity to find the gifts that her staff had. She was very much like a shepherd," Gamache-Hauptman said.

Chris Poburan remembered the adventurous side of his mother, and noted that he really admired the way she struck out on her own, to go to university in Edmonton.

"I remember when I first started university, I thought of Mom because those first weeks were so confusing. I thought of this tiny little French girl – this country girl – who came to Edmonton on her own and dealt with all of the commotion of university," Chris said.

He also remembered his mother's quiet strength and said she had a forceful presence in whatever she did.

"I remember how busy she was when we were kids and I remember she was extremely organized. I don't know how she made everything happen. She just did. She was that way with Dad, too. He was vocal and she was the quiet one, but whatever she said went," Chris said.

Leaving three small sons with a sitter, Poburan boogied from the family's Edmonton home to work at Father Lacombe School. During those early years of teaching, Peter had a barber shop on Jasper Avenue and later he went into real estate, Chris said.

"She used to drive real fast. I thought that was normal when I was growing up and it wasn't until later that I figured out how fast she was going. It was surprising, because she was a quiet, gentle person," Chris said, adding that his mother once told her granddaughter, that those years were among the happiest in her life.

For 15 years she served as vice-principal of Albert Lacombe School and later was principal at Ecole Father Jan for eight years until her retirement in 1987.

Poburan's hobbies included needlework and sewing. She made clothes for everyone, including her three sons.

"She made suits for everyone and she made dresses for her nieces when they got married. She made clothes for us, even jeans. I remember it was a little rough at school, wearing home-made jeans, but she sewed this little Levi tag on them and that helped," Chris said.

Chris, who spoke at his mother's retirement party, also recalled how much his mother loved to teach.

"She loved education. It was her passion," he said.

Poburan's adventurous spirit continued in her retirement years and until Peter's death in 2002, the couple travelled to Europe and wintered in Arizona. The Poburans were married for 48 years.

"She even learned to ride a bike in Arizona. She never had a chance to learn growing up in St. Paul, but when she retired, she learned," Chris said.

Marie Poburan is survived by her three sons, Brent, Chris (Liz) and Jim and three grandchildren: Jennifer (Corey) Smith, Denver and Molly Poburan as well as by sisters Patricia Lytwyn and Suzanne Slevinsky and brother Robert (Annette) Longchamp.


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