We just hosted Christmas dinner and Nigel and Angela were with us. I have to write this down because, given the experience of being swept up in gravy and my grandson, there wasn’t a single photograph archived of my dinner guests. You know the one…the one where everyone is gathered into a collective and asked to say CHEESE! There is always only one person left out of that photograph. Well, this year…well…no need to get redundant.
12/6/17, 4:11 PM I received this message.
Dear Kathleen, I will always remember you as “Mrs Hanrahan”. I don’t know if you remember me, but you taught me grade 7 art some years ago. I have been searching for you for some time, but it is only appropriate that I should find you now, as I am about to embark on a new adventure; teaching art. Would you be interested in a get together and perhaps imparting some of your wisdom to me?
NIGEL???? Remember you???
Of course, I remember you!
Following our reconnect were stories of remembrance of the Junior High variety…students working things out in my storage cupboard…stuff like that. As I revisit those years, Robbie Fernuk isn’t far away. He was a big part of the creative energy that lived in that particular art class. So was Nigel. Oh, how the years have sped by…
Photos from our first get together, when I got to meet Angela. Oh my goodness! It was as though we had never been apart.
I treasure our friendship. Nigel is life-giving. He is kind and smart and funny. Angela has become a new friend and I hope that we have the years to build memories and share experiences. Both Angela and Nigel are animal whisperers, brilliant, well-read and artistic. I love them!
(looking for Angela’s birthday photograph, but can’t find them in my archives…sheesh)
My daughter (now, a teacher) and I were sitting together while she was still cozy in her kitty jammies this morning…me, at the dining table, she, on the stairs…she was telling me about a very inspiring Convention session that she attended on Thursday of this past week. It turns out that the presenter was Ron Wigglesworth. As soon as I started exploring his posts on the internet, I realized how his contributions to education and to students has been exceptional. Anyone who has encouraged a connection between drawing and biology is great in my eyes…in fact, I’d have to say that he has done a lot of connecting between diverse disciplines.
I got thinking about archives of various projects and things that my students have explored in the past and I just thought I’d write a post that featured those. I had fun teaching and in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that I saw the students’ hands, hearts and minds as extensions of my own. I’m grateful for their hard work, their talents and their commitment. For me, it was never about the marks. A sampling…digital…there’s a load of stuff in my photo albums. And, today, I’m celebrating it all.
I think I was looking for my photograph archives from a trip I took with my son, the summer of 2009, when I came upon some images from the end of the teaching year and celebrations with my students; specifically, my grade nine art students, our life sized sculpture exhibit and my grade seven home room.
It was that year that I invited my students to bring in a special object for our prayer table…so, every Monday, it would be the next person’s turn. It started with me…and a stone. Jarrett Alley, a former student of mine, had passed away in 1997 at the age of 13. His place in the classroom was two rows back, but directly across from the framed article that remained, for all of my teaching years, a tribute to his life.
I think I always intended to copy and pass on a photo to each student at the end of that year, but evidently that never happened!
I’m going to loop the photographs here. My students, of over thirty years of teaching, remain in my heart.
For the most part, I am out of touch with these students, so if my readers know any of them, please share.
The female eaglet, #1, has left the nest. She’s done a couple of flybys at the Duke Farm’s eagle nest and parents have been diligent about continuing to bring food to the nest, but our little guy, #2, is looking lonely. I first discovered #1 was going into the realm of fledging on Thursday at lunch. I had a preparation period and saw this all on my own. I actually had a tear because of the wonderful memories the grade threes and I have shared, watching the adults birth, hatch and raise their two young ones.
February 2015 Two Eggs
Here they are on April 19th.
This was the nest yesterday on June 13, 2015.
The student observations have been so beautiful, I’ve taken a selection of photos of some of their illustrations and recorded observations. These warm my heart…absolutely precious.
Hmmm…as I’ve been downloading the student observations, little lady has been back to the nest to feast on a fish that her mama just brought. Presently, she and her sibling are cuddling on a branch and clicking their beaks together. The biologists have indicated that she’s been doing a lot of flying today and might just hang out at the nest for the time being.Now, for the student observations…read their entries…they are beautiful.
At the Decorah Nest, their #1 of three fledged today! WHOOT!
This is a role I didn’t ever imagine filling…a Home Economics (Career and Technology Studies) teacher for Junior High School. Awesome! I took Marilyn’s classes for four days, an opportunity that saw me teaching Health, Sewing Room Safety, Textile Arts, Sewing Buttons and Junior High Drama! WHOOT!
I shared with the classes in Home Economics the fact that this was my single opportunity to inspire them and so, of course, spoke to them for fifteen minutes about my mother and her abilities in the kitchen as well as in every possible act of needle work. At the end of the classes, I showed them some images of Mom’s masterpieces. The students were all so receptive and appreciative.
Sewing Room Safety was great fun and here, as well, some personal narratives helped to illustrate the importance of preventing unnecessary accidents.
For sewing two types of buttons, I sought our a few Youtube videos. (there are A LOT of really bad Youtube videos) My favourite video was from the Art of Manliness, demonstrating the sewing of the sew-through style of button. I liked that it included the spacer and while it didn’t show the back stitch tack onto the front of the garment, that was easy to demonstrate after the fact.
I liked this one because it demonstrates how a tight button looks, given that the woman did not use a spacer. Dolphin down and dolphin up actually became a bit of a fun bit of terminology once we got sewing. (Initially, this was annoying.)
The first REAL challenge was threading a needle!
Back tacking on the front of the garment.
Placement of a spacer…
Great effort and willingness from the students!
Knotted on the back, instead of the front back stitch.
In textile arts, in preparation for Valentine’s Day…the students created three stuffed hearts, edging with blanket stitch. So fun!
Drama is something that’s really in my comfort zone, so I did a lot of skill development with both classes on Focus, Self Control and Posture, both from the stand point of being an audience member and a performer. The grade eights and nines will be auditioning for parts in the up and coming spring performance, so as well as reviewing their audition selections, I showed them 5 Minute Acting Classes: How Not to Audition.
What awesome students! And, Marilyn, excellent planning and organization! I don’t know that I could teach them how to make an omelette. This was an opportunity to do something really different and I dedicated it all to my mentor in most creative endeavors, my mother. I love you, Mom. Thanks to my neighbour, Todd, in the shop, for his support throughout my four-day visit!
Post Script: Did I mention that I got to supervise a school dance? Blast from the past!
‘Back in the Day’, we were substitute teachers. These days, we are guest teachers! I have to say, after a day like today, I feel so blessed. In my retirement I have opportunity to hold on to everything that is magical about teaching. Today was one of those particularly special days out in the schools; but truly, every day, with whatever grade level or subject, I learn something very ‘cool’ about students…something very interesting about curriculum content, but most often, I learn things about myself.
This grade two class has a teacher-read novel going on that I have never read before. After reading two chapters, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo has me hooked!
From Wikipedia…this summary of the early events of Book I
Book I: A Mouse Is Born
Book one tells a story about a small, sickly mouse born in a castle named Despereaux. He was born a runt with large ears and eyes. Despereaux, unlike other mice, spends lots of time reading. He particularly enjoys a book about how a knight saves a princess and they live happily ever after. One day while reading he hears music. He follows the sound and is led to Princess Pea and King Philip. He falls in love with the princess and speaks to her, but the king led the mouse away because mice were related to rats, which are a danger to the kingdom. Furlough, his brother, sees this and tells his father, Lester Tilling. Lester calls the mouse council; Furlough goes to collect Despereaux . The mouse council orders Despereaux to be sent to the dungeon because talking to a human is forbidden. In the dungeon he meets Gregory, the jailer, who saves him because Despereaux tells Gregory a story.
As I discussed the preceding chapters with the students and then delved into issues around today’s chapters, I was in awe of the sensitivity of their responses. In fact, as I reflect and type here, I smile for remembering. We spoke a lot about happy endings. One little boy said that he was going to go home and write a prayer for his Gramma who had passed. One little girl said that when someone passes, we don’t just have that memory to hold on to, we need to remember all of the happy endings along the way. One pointed out that the entire board ledge was filled with stories with happy endings. We thought about courage. We thought about how hard it is sometimes to be brave. We talked about wee Despereaux’s love for Princess Pea. We talked about ‘the rule’ for mice…about not letting yourself be known to humans. What an awesome time for me. I learned so much and so appreciate the goodness in these 22 little people.
The students were eager and knowledgeable about the rites and rituals of their entire day. The class hummed along like a well-oiled machine…and I sort of followed along. We deemed it Wacky Wednesday simply because everything I did with them would be ‘somehow’ different. Soon after that, one wee boy, looked up from his desk and asked, “When is our teacher going to be back?” Laughing about that right now.
Before library, we collected our books and placed them in stacks, then prepared the classroom for an art extravaganza. Their chairs were decked out with individual and ‘named’ cubbies, and so, a simple solution was to push the chairs against the perimeter of the room and tackle the projects in standing position around the classroom tables. Love was the focus. Prior to the day’s beginning, I mixed up a great variety of reds and pinks…threw in some peach colour and white…and we were off to the races. February, all wrapped up in a January afternoon!I set up the paint center and explained to the children how to use it efficiently and without accident. Two hands wrapped around the buckets…two brushes always in each colour…In that last half hour before library, the grade twos had their hearts sketched out in chalk and practiced a variety of patterns. They also watched my demonstration of how to stroke their brushes, rather than scrub them…and off they went for their book exchange and then lunch.
The afternoon opened up total possibility as they began by painting in their concentric hearts.
Once their hearts were painted in solidly, they went back to the dried colours and applied their various patterns.
The students busied themselves while waiting for certain areas to dry by cutting out their projects and wiping wee bits of paint from the table surface. Because the hearts only met the edge of the paper at five points, this project is NOT one of those messy ones. But watch the natural inclination for the tapping of the brushes on the bucket edge…teach your students to do a wipe to remove excess paint.
A wonderful day…I was blessed in so many ways! Grades Kindergarten, one and two…BIG BRUSHES, LOTS OF LIQUID COLOUR, BIG PAPER and Pizzazz!
I found her! Kearston is now 23…that means I’ve been holding on to this letter for eleven years! With plans to move back to Saskatchewan to study nursing, Kearston seems to be doing just fine. It was a blessing to share in a conversation and to know that she is alright.
It was so good to give Kearston a hug and pass her grade seven letter back to her. I had a practice of having my students write a letter to themselves for their religion class and three years after that, would post them in the mail. I’m still holding on to two letters that were sent back because of incorrect addresses. In time, I know that these will also find their way into the right hands. May you have tremendous happiness ahead, dear Kearston!
I painted on a Masonite board while in Mr. Carlin’s class…I still have the original sketches for the painting, “Adam”, that I worked on independently through his grade nine class in 1969. They were tucked away in my portfolio. The oil painting has long since disappeared; likely on one of our military moves it didn’t make it onto a truck. A muscular Adam had his leg wound up tight by a serpent…a very symbolic piece for such a young girl. It makes me smile today, to remember.
Mr. Carlin was such an inspiring mentor! I will never forget him and his ways. Particularly, I will always remember his sense of humour! He was so encouraging. As I journey back in blog-time to the visit with Dad in Ontario (wanted to blog away the poignant moments that held so many lessons while home…but Dad’s computer was too darned slow at the time!), I find myself remembering the decision to miss my 40th high school reunion in Great Falls, Montana and focus, instead, on what it was my Dad and I had to learn together through our grief. That didn’t mean there weren’t going to be a couple of side trips though. The trip to Hamilton had been such a blessing later in June.
I knew that my sister was a health nurse at Camp Tawingo again this past summer. One of the joyful memories of my life was the magic of bumping into Val some years ago at a hotel parking lot in North Bay. I was on my fourth night of driving east, pulling in from Thunder Bay and she was having her 48 hour break from camp. It was a fortunate and very serendipitous moment.
As I signed the guest book, Mr. Carlin stepped up behind me, recognizing me immediately. What a spark of magic that was! I will never forget it…A drum ceremony opened the event and I felt washed over by good will and creativity. It was an event I will not soon forget. It was very quick…very spontaneous…but I needed Mr. Carlin to know that I have never forgotten him. I also needed to see his work up close. If ever my readers have the chance to see his art, please do! Thank you, dear Mr. Carlin, for having been my teacher.
I taught these two explorers when they were in junior high and they looked something like this.
I followed their journeys through high school art to some degree and knew that they had stayed connected to visual arts although they were busy with so much more, such well-rounded ladies, full of good humour…that they continue to be fun to be around. They worked double-hard, pretty much triple-hard, this past year, saving for their trip of a lifetime…five to six months all over the United Kingdom and Europe. It’s been fun watching them blog and post photos of the wonders they are experiencing on their Tumblr account, Reverse Pioneering.
Here we are before they left…so full of planning and excitement. We snacked and chatted the evening away and then they were gone…landing first in London.
Today, I received a postcard from the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. I wanted them to see Guernica by Pablo Picasso and THEY DID! I dream to stand before this image and believe it to be as powerful as described. In my own high school experience, while competing in an expository format, I delivered a memorized speech throughout Montana in national competition. I feel like this is one iconic image and I cherish the fact that they put this in the mail for me! Safe travels, ladies!
I love the preface written for this particular book of poetry. It claims to have a poem for each season and every occasion. I looked over the poems…thought about them…the one that speaks to me today is written by Alfred Lord Tennyson, A Farewell. A former student of mine has passed away…he was an avid fisherman…loved the outdoors…he was a young man. My heart is broken for his family and his friends. Following, the composition based on Tennyson’s words.
When I drove my son down to the park last night, looking for Patrick’s brother…a tall buck was standing right in the middle of the road and a doe nuzzled snow just off to the side. Noticing us, in just a few long strides, the buck gracefully vanished, along with its partner, into the night. In some mysterious way, I thought, “How appropriate that these two beautiful creatures…so stately…would come up from Fish Creek Park tonight.” Patrick, may you rest in eternal peace.
Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.
Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
Nowhere by thee my steps shall be
For ever and for ever.
But here will sigh thine alder tree
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever.
A thousand suns will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.