Stephen Stohn and Linda Schuyler Changed Teen TV Forever
Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner December 18, 2019
Stephen Stohn and Linda Schuyler on the Degrassi set in Toronto in 2013. Stohn is the new chancellor of Trent University. KEITH BEATY/TORSTAR
I belong to the Trent Athletic Centre, it being the closest fitness place to my home. I get to see posters of upcoming events and free lectures at the university. This place of learning has many renewed links to the community, I find. And now, there is a brilliant appointment to deepen the community-university relationship. I recently met the new chancellor, appointed in June for a three-year term.
I chatted with Stephen Stohn of Toronto, a Trent grad of 1969, and his spouse, the decorated television producer, Linda Schuyler, over coffee at Gzowski College. I came to see their profound interest in our region, in Trent, in students and in liberal values.
Each is very accomplished. Stohn, an entertainment lawyer, and former producer of the Juno Awards, is a Canadian cultural powerhouse. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2011. Over more than 20 years, the company he ran with Linda produced many hundreds of episodes of critically-acclaimed television for teens including the iconic Degrassi series. About growing up in Toronto, the Degrassi series tackled teen drama unflinchingly: Drugs, sexuality, gender identity, cyberbullying; all the joys and the angst of teenagehood.
The chancellorship all fits. While at Trent studying philosophy and economics, (now there's a good combination for life), Stohn was influenced by founding president T.H.B. Symons, and he helped start the Arthur newspaper and Trent Radio. A lifelong interest in music marks his career and philanthropic work.
With zest, modesty and charm, Stohn plans to enter into university life with at least a weekly visit, turn up at gatherings large and small, share his story, befriend students and professors and enhance life in Peterborough generally.
"Trent has always emphasized interactive learning," he says. "It rates very highly in every survey of student satisfaction, and takes a critical approach to thinking in all disciplines. These habits of mind are the very ones needed in our time. The unique guiding principles of Trent have been foundational in my life."
Schuyler wears her Order of Canada pin, earned for her creative work with Degrassi. She taught for eight years in a Toronto junior high school, observing the diversity there and the teenage lives. "I am a storyteller" she says, "and first of all, an educator."
I recall many 50-year-old friends telling me they had most of their sex education from watching Degrassi.
"There was no human issue we would not explore," Schuyler says. "We were determined to tell the truth about young lives, and to keep our actors at the same age as the characters. No 24-year-olds playing 16." Continue Reading >HERE<
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