Barman. That’s what a 4th grader said for the yearbook when asked what he wants to be when he grows up, an answer the school requires him to change.
Zachary Anderson goes to Whyte Ridge School and was faced with the question last week.
“It’s a way to be creative,” says Anderson, who has an uncle who works as a bartender, “you get to socialize and meet new people.”
Anderson’s teacher – and later the school administration – asked him to change his answer, which he didn’t want.
As a compromise, the school offered to create a separate yearbook for Anderson and his twin brother, who is in the same class, with their two copies reading “Bartender” while everyone else would read “Hospitality.”
“Rather than make a big deal out of it, they should just support it like the rest of the class,” Anderson said. “They have to support everyone no matter what.”
Anderson’s mother, Jennifer, herself a doctor and former bartender, supported her son’s choice and campaigned on his behalf with the school board.
She received an email from the school saying that despite her approval of her son’s chosen profession, the term “bartender” “might lend itself to questions and interpretation within our community,” Jennifer said while reading the email read on her phone.
“You speak for the community and I’m sure there are many people in the community who have either been bartenders in the past or are currently bartenders,” she said in response to the email.
Pembina Trails School Division Superintendent Ted Fransen said in a statement to CTV News, “We will not involve the media in discussions about a child’s schoolwork at an early age.”
Some bartenders receive accredited post-secondary education, such as in the Manitoba Tourism Education Council bartender program.
“To handle sticky situations, to know when to interrupt someone, to work in a fast-paced environment, you have to multitask,” said Shannon Fontaine, CEO of the Manitoba Tourism Council, when asked what skills to develop during his Barman could learn work.
She said educators shouldn’t discourage students from pursuing careers in the service industry, adding that some people may just be misinformed about how far you can go in the sector.
“A lot of people have no idea what a lucrative career you can have in hospitality,” Fontaine said. “I went from a receptionist to a manager, which has led me to where I am today.”
Bartenders can also be entrepreneurs.
Mark Turner studied psychology at university. He now owns and operates the Amsterdam Tea Room and Bar in the Exchange District.
“When I was in college, I worked almost full-time in a bar and restaurant and through my job as a bartender I learned more about human psychology than I did in school,” Turner said.
Turner welcomes Anderson’s hopes of becoming a bartender and sticking to his decision, traits he likes to see in employees.
“I think if he wants a job, once he’s 16, I’d put him in the bowl,” Turner said.