Hamilton·Video

Actor and comedian Gerry Dee visits virtual classrooms across Canada

When Christine Stephen created a Twitter account last week, she had one person in mind — Canadian teacher turned actor and comedian Gerry Dee.

'Does anyone know who I am? Not one kid?' Gerry Dee joked while talking to Hamilton kindergarten students

Actor and comedian Gerry Dee joined virtual classrooms across Canada to raise educators' and kids' spirits as they power through remote learning. (Family Feud Canada)

When Christine Stephen created a Twitter account last week, she had one person in mind — actor and comedian Gerry Dee.

Dee tweeted on Jan. 5 asking educators across Canada to send him a link to their virtual classrooms so he could pop in and surprise the kids. Stephen's first ever tweet was directed at Dee, asking him to meet her 24 kindergarten students at Janet Lee Elementary School in Stoney Creek.

The next morning, she saw a notification.

"When I checked the notification and it said 'Gerry Dee is following you,' I was so surprised. Then I was a little bit dumbfounded, thinking it must not be real," Stephen said.

"I showed my son, who is 17, who then went crazy."

'Does anyone know who I am?'

She was full of excitement, but had no idea if the celebrity would turn up.

If he did, it would be a highlight after a long and hard two years of teaching that have been full of twists and turns.

Stephen was about to start another day of class from her makeshift remote learning station in her dining room when she noticed a new name pop up into her class.

Gerry Dee visited a virtual Kindergarten classroom at Janet Lee Elementary School last week. (Submitted by Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board)

"My teaching partners and I ... had seen his name down the side and were making faces at each other in the camera like we just couldn't belive his name was there and he was going to be joining us," Stephen said.

Moments later, Dee was on screen. Even Stephen's dog was excited to meet him, she said, as it barked at the screen.

Dee tweeted some of the class visit for others to see.

"Does anyone know who I am? Not one kid?" he said.

"Am I an astronaut? Am I an actor? Or am I doctor?"

The class got the first question of the day right.

"You're an actor," said one child.

Joining classes was 'spontaneous' idea

Dee told The National that the idea to join classes was a spontaneous one.

"I had just set up my own three kids with my wife on their own respective remote learning links, and passwords were missing and we were probably scrambling around," he said.

"Having been a teacher for 10 years, I couldn't help but think how unfortunate this is ... I thought 'you know, what a way to give them a little break for a couple of minutes and put a smile on their faces.' "

WATCH: Here's why Gerry Dee visited virtual classrooms

Teacher turned comedian Gerry Dee drops into virtual classrooms

21 days ago
Duration 5:03
Canadian teacher turned comedian Gerry Dee talks to Ian Hanomansing about why he’s been dropping into virtual classes across the country. 5:03

He wasn't sure if anyone would reply to his initial tweet, but it turned out he couldn't keep up with all the requests.

Dee called the kindergarten kids "priceless."

"Their parents were more excited, jumping into the background," he said.

Teacher becomes even bigger fan

Stephen said Dee couldn't have been nicer.

"He knows what the state of education is right now. He understands what a high-pressure and stressful situation this is for families and students, and of course educators," she said.

"I think I respect him even more now ... he just did it out of the goodness of his heart. A good Canadian boy, for sure."

Even better news, Stephen said, is educators and teachers will return to in-person learning next week.

Friday will be a half-day transition at Hamilton public and Catholic school boards, which means students will do pre-recorded video lessons, assignments and discussion boards (asynchronous learning) that afternoon as staff prepare to transition again.

"Anytime I get to be in the classroom with my students ... is the best time," Stephen said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca

With files from The National

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