The Cardinal Spirit

The Cardinal Spirit

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Canadian Finds Himself Teaching US History

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  • Mr. Walsh and his family visited the Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada last summer. He hopes that his children have some of the same childhood experiences that he did.

    Photo Submitted by James Walsh

  • James Walsh is a long time teacher of United States history, which many find surprising since he is a citizen of Canada.

    Kathrine Mahoney

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Most would make the assumption that a U.S History would be a U.S. citizen.  However, one of SCHS’s most beloved history teachers originated from Southern Ontario, Canada.  So how exactly did this Canadian find himself in the classroom at SCHS?

 Mr. James Walsh grew up as part of a pastor’s family in Canada. “My father was a minister and moved churches several times,” he said.  Several of those churches were in the US, so Walsh lived here off and on throughout his childhood.  Once he finished high school, he chose to further his education in the U.S, which led to his permanent residency.   

Walsh attended Greenville University in Illinois. “My majors in college were history and philosophy, with minors in political science and religion,” he explained. “I received my first master’s degree in theological studies, with an emphasis in church history and world religions.”  A few years later, Walsh decided to return to school to become a teacher.

I really enjoy teaching U.S history. Packed into the brief time of this country, there is a rich tapestry of the history of humanity.”

— James Walsh

Once his certification was complete and he started looking for jobs, it just so happened that the schools hiring only had US history positions open.  He accepted one, and he’s been teaching US History ever since. “I really enjoy teaching U.S history. Packed into the brief time of this country, there is a rich tapestry of the history of humanity,” he said.

While Walsh teaches U.S history, he often finds a way to incorporate aspects of his Canadian culture into his class. For example, one of the many differences in culture between the two countries is the interest in hockey.  It’s extremely popular in Canada, not so much in the US. When there is a major hockey tournament happening, like the Winter Olympics for example, Mr. Walsh will turn on the game before he starts his lessons to expose his students to the sport.

“I love Kentucky. I’ve been here for over 20 years now. It’s home. I love the people, the horse farms, the Wildcats. I’m proud to represent KY everywhere I go, even Canada.”

— James Walsh

His knowledge of two cultures also allows him to give students another side of the story.  He enjoys sharing stories that he has learned or heard about how Canadian history sometimes coincides with US History.   

Although Walsh has now made Kentucky his home, it is important that he stay in touch with his Canadian roots. Walsh and his wife Anna have two boys, Seamus and Cormac, and he believes it is important to share his native culture with them.  After all, the boys have Canadian citizenship as well.

The Walsh family travels back and forth between the US and Canada often; mostly for the holidays and to visit family, but also to introduce his two sons and wife to the best of both countries. One way he incorporates both cultures is through these trips. Walsh explained, “In the summer, we try and camp a week at Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada, and then we spend a week at my parents. At the holidays, we try and see both my brothers and their families.”

Walsh has fully embraced his new home and has no current plans to leave it behind. “I love Kentucky.” he said, “I’ve been here for over 20 years now. It’s home. I love the people, the horse farms, the Wildcats. I’m proud to represent KY everywhere I go, even Canada.”

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Canadian Finds Himself Teaching US History