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CIA Member's Tribute to Inspirational Teacher

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CIA member John Hele, left, in the atrium he has named after his former teacher, Bruce White, right. Below, a view of the atrium. Pictures: Chris Hughes and Amy Aldous.

A high school teacher's lessons proved an inspiration to CIA member John Hele—so much so that Mr. Hele has thanked him with an unusual tribute.

John Hele, now chief financial officer and executive vice-president of Arch Capital Group in Bermuda, attended the Hon. W.C. Kennedy Collegiate Institute in Windsor,  ON, where he had an inspirational teacher named Bruce White.

Mr. Hele, FCIA, FSA, MAAA, went on to earn a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Waterloo, and when his alma mater offered for sale the naming rights to the atrium in its new mathematics building, he bought them. But he chose to name the site after his favourite teacher, rather than himself.

Ian Goulden, dean of the Faculty of Mathematics at Waterloo, said: "It’s heartwarming that one of our alumni has named this space in honour of his high school math teacher. This beautiful atrium is a focal point for our whole faculty, and we’re thrilled to recognize Bruce White for inspiring generations of students to achieve excellence."

Mr. White is said to inspire his students by encouraging them to ask questions and focus on the process rather than the theory behind the problem. In addition to succeeding at competitions, his students excel once they reach university-level mathematics classes.

John Hele said: "In each of our lifetimes, there are only a few who make a truly lasting impression. Bruce White is one of those people, and has done this for thousands of students. He does not just teach mathematics; he teaches how to learn mathematics."

Mr. White has taught more than 8,000 people. Although he retired in 2004, he still runs math clubs for more than 200 students twice a week, and another one for a smaller group. He is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence and the University of Waterloo’s Descartes Award for Outstanding Teaching in High School Mathematics. The University of Windsor awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions to students and learning.

He said: "I never expected this prestigious and enduring honour. It is hard for me to find the words to really show my appreciation, but I hope that John knows how grateful l am."

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