As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close, students and teachers alike are disheartened to hear the announcement of Mr. Heffernan’s retirement after 30 years of dedication as a teacher at North Toronto. Mr. Heffernan has been the only computer science teacher for the senior level computer science classes and a teacher for the introductory Grade 10 computer science course. From the first “Hello world.” program to simple computer games, he allowed students to experiment and become creative with programming after his lessons. On his self-made website, projects for students reinforced fundamentals taught in class, allowing students to grasp patterns within code before they design their own program at the end of the year. Mr. Heffernan contributed to the growth of the computer science program by encouraging his students to participate in computer science club at lunch if they had any trouble with their computer programs and by developing a passion to code within students by promoting coding competitions. Often, these competitions, such as the Canadian Computing Competition conducted by Waterloo University, invoke a deeper analysis of lessons taught in class and problem-solving skills, giving students an appreciation for what computer science is all about. Through his willingness to help strengthen a student’s ability to code and challenge lessons taught in class, Mr. Heffernan “helped encourage students to pursue a career in math or computer science.”
Mr. Heffernan’s dad had been a teacher, which inspired Mr. Heffernan to pursue teaching as well. Before coming to NT, Mr. Heffernan studied mathematics and computer science at McMaster University then proceeded to finish his B.Ed. at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Education. He was a teaching assistant at McMaster then did a few months of supply teaching before teacher's college and after in his hometown. Once he arrived at the grand doors of North Toronto, it was love at first sight as he continued to teach full-time for the next 30 years. He loved the enthusiasm students had at NT and he has always enjoyed helping students understand new concepts.
In the future, Mr. Heffernan plans to “pursue whatever interests [him]”. He eventually would like to travel the world after these difficult times pass. He advises future computer science students to write as many programs as they can, to be open-minded about learning new programming languages, and to not be afraid to try new things. Mr. Heffernan’s dedication to teaching, outgoingness, and his passion for computer science will be missed in the computer lab and in the halls of NT. We wish him happiness in his future journeys and endeavours.