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A passion for college and community


Dave Freckelton is a guy who likes a challenge.

It could be beating his number of consecutive days walked or chairing a contentious public meeting or developing a new program for the Nova Scotia Community College campus in Stellarton where he is principal.

 “I like seeing things happening, the sense of getting things done, making progress,” said Freckelton.

He starts his days around 5 a.m. with a 75 minute walk and is back up to 800 days in a row, having previously been forced to stop at 1,900 when his wife was ill.

“I’ve never been stopped by weather. I walk, listen to the radio, keep an eye out for a couple of dogs and think about what’s on for the day.”

One of the things he is always thinking about is strengthening the relationship between NSCC, the county and the region.

“Pictou County has had a few hard hits lately but I believe we have the minds to turn this around. We’ve got a lot to offer in this county. We have to work together and the college has to serve the community.”

Freckelton enjoys seeing NSCC students contributing to the community through projects such as Allan Park and the new track and field complex. He is active in the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce because he sees a vital relationship between business, industry and the college.

 “At the college we want to be planning for our needs. When we have a medical marijuana plant under construction I have to be talking to Mayor Gennoe about setting up a meeting with the company. We need to know now what kind of skills that company will want for its workforce. Ideally, we’re planning for where we will be five years down the road. ”

Freckelton has no problem with providing welding inspectors and other trades people for Alberta but he likes to know local needs are also being met.

 “That comes naturally from living in the community. I want to see us have what we need but I know there are people who want to go out west. I want them to have the skill sets to be able to come home later if the opportunity comes up.”

He is pretty familiar with the Alberta economy since most of his seven siblings live there.

“My father went out for a job 30 years ago and a lot of my brothers and sisters followed my parents. One of my brothers went to Australia and another brother and I stayed in Nova Scotia.”

In his first summer out of high school Freckelton, who grew up outside Halifax, got a job teaching adult education. He returned to the job every summer through university and developed an appreciation of the difference education made for the people he worked with.

 “I thought I’d become a lawyer but getting that job when I was 17 got me interested in teaching. I got my undergraduate degree and was still thinking about law school but I decided to get my education degree because it only took one year at Dalhousie in those days. I figured if I didn’t get a teaching job I’d go to law school.”

He got a couple of term jobs in vocational education in the Lunenburg area and got a taste of life in rural Nova Scotia before a permanent position opened up in Pictou County.

 “I was enjoying teaching and I liked the look of Pictou County so that’s how I landed here 32 years ago. This is where my three kids call home and now I have grandchildren in the county.”

Freckelton’s community activism began with his involvement in teachers’ professional unions, at the county and provincial levels. He also taught drivers’ education at Stellarton High School for 15 years.

 “If you are going to live somewhere you have to get involved. Working in the union made me aware of a lot of community issues and I chose the ones where I felt I could do the most good. I spent 14 years with the Children’s Aid Society, four of those years as president, and that work was close to my heart.”

He serves on the Victorian Order of Nurses’ board because he was so impressed with the care his wife received when she needed it.

When Chignecto Central Regional School Board had to leave Highland Consolidated School in Westville a few years ago because of air quality issues, Freckelton accommodated students at the community college.

“It was spring and we had the space. Why not? There was no charge because taxpayers built the college.  It worked out pretty well over the short term and students from Dr. W. A. MacLeod School still use our gym.”

While business enterprises are charged a rental for college facilities and some organizations qualify for a reduced rate, groups that provide programs for youth are not charged. One of the beneficiaries of that policy is the Pictou County Lightning Basketball Club.

“If it is something that is keeping kids busy, I’m all for it and I’ll help anyway we can. Our gym floor is going to need some work down the road but we’ve got kids in playing basketball about four times a week and that’s great. I love to see the place busy.”

Freckelton has enough years in teaching to be thinking about retirement but he does not give it much thought.   

 “I’ve got great staff and a great management team. I love seeing students come here and transform themselves.  Why would I retire when I’m loving what I do?”

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