Ode to the Teachers of the Learning Centres

Dear Learning Centre colleagues:

As always, I stare at this blank page and wonder how the heck I can communicate the thoughts and feelings that are tucked down inside me?  I am inspired and full of ideas.. but these days the blank page seems to be more blank as the chemo has affected my word power.  Forgive this post if it seems to be more “ADD”ish than normal.  I know you, my colleagues, are familiar with how to interpret jibberish into meaning and take comfort in that.

I would so much rather be with you in those very uncomfortable blue plastic chairs, to be honest, than here on the other side of the blog.  I thought I may be able to “do it” today – but wisdom (of others – mainly Kevin) has prevailed.  “Stacey, you really shouldn’t go.  You are fighting for your life right now.  You need to be resting.”  Right.

I am sick of resting and sick of being isolated – but I would rather that than the alternative.  Anyone would  – I would hope.

Truthfully, I really don’t have the capacity to process new information (or even old) at this time.  It seems I am a uni-tasker.  To even leave the house I have to carefully plan my steps.  I forget words.  I forget items.  I forget what I am doing.  I get confused.  My 81-year old mother-in-law and I RELATE well to each other, so we laugh at this folly.  Well, I laugh on the outside, yet worry on the inside.  I hope like hell that this is not permanent.  I count on the fact that it is not permanent and that my circumstances will improve.

This hope is fueled by my family and my friends.  I need daily reminders that I will be okay.  I need hourly reminders that I will be okay.  Sometimes the reminders come through phone calls and sometimes through visits.  Sometimes they come through texts and sometimes through facebook.  I cannot believe that facebook has been such an important support mechanism for me.  And, of course, I write.  I get support from the nearly anonymous fellow writers on wordpress.

My friends include my colleagues – you.  I cannot begin to tell you how much your support and encouragement has meant to me.  Since I have no hair (at ALL, well, other than those bushy and stubborn eyebrows) I am always cold.  Of course, this means I have my quilt wrapped around me all the time.  I read your messages… over and over again.  They remind me that I am not forgotten.  They remind me I have meaning.

They remind me that I have purpose.  They remind me that I have a future – and I have hope.  My weekly visits reassure me that I am missed – that I am not forgotten – that I have meaning.

I have meaning.

This is the tough stretch in teaching – as I recall (and some things like that are not forgettable!).  When I speak about my own fears, I know that I am speaking the same language as the students who attend our classes.  It is so ironic that I find their voice in mine.  I feel their concerns intimately.  I feel their stress, their worry about lack of purpose and meaning.  But more importantly – I can finally understand what we, you… mean to them.

Because of you – THEY are given comfort.

Because of you – THEY are given hope.

Because of you – THEY are given purpose.

Because of you – THEY are given meaning.

We make a difference.  We plant seeeds we have no idea we have planted.  We carry on in the classroom, sometimes shaking with frustration at not being able to understand or connect to a student, not knowing if we are the blind leading the blind.  We often work in the dark.

Over the past three months, I have received so many messages from former students who I thought I have never reached – to discover that they consider my teaching to have been the light that inspired their learning.  My classes helped them to ignite a passion for life.  My classes helped them to find meaning in their lives.  And all I did was to “be there” in the moment with them.  I paid attention.  I listened.  I reached out.

I know you – almost all of you – well. We have worked together for, some of you, almost 20 years.  (I think)  I know that you are me and I am you in terms of our approach to teaching.  I know that you too would receive the thank-yous and accolades from former students should you (God forbid) ever face this life-threatening health issue.  It seems that I have been eulogized (in a good way) while I am still alive.  It is only when you think you are losing something that you come to evaluate and appreciate it.  I have been fortunate to have the best of both worlds:  to be acknowledge for my contributions at the same time I have the hope of life.

I am not offering you a eulogy.  Phew.  I am offering you a public declaration of appreciation and admiration.  You, my colleagues are wonderful people – before you are outstanding teachers.   You are beacons of hope to our students and I.  You give us encouragement, hope, and meaning.

I have rich experiences in teaching ranging from writing curriculum for the Toronto Star to organizing and hosting student conference at the United Nations in New York.  Yet, the most meaningful experiences I have ever had have been with you – my colleagues  – at the Learning Centre.

Enjoy your time.  Enjoy our students.  You give us meaning.  Thank-you.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas (happy holidays) and am hopeful to be with you in person – in those very uncomfortable, blue plastic chairs – in the near future!

Yours truly,

Stacey

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About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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18 Responses to Ode to the Teachers of the Learning Centres

  1. Karen says:

    well said!!

  2. pepesapam says:

    The quilt looks so nice with the Christmas tree besides that…!! I am sure you must be a wonderful teacher as your blog continue to inspire people like me, wish you were my teacher…;-)

    • inmycorner says:

      Thank-you so much, Pepesapam! I could only hope that I made an impact. I sure did love the students – and the best staff in the world with which to teach. I would love to have an eager and intelligent student like you in my class!

      • pepesapam says:

        You already made an impact. I guess you really love your job. that’s nice, as for me teaching is such a big hurdle, i don’t know whether i can explain stuffs to students in future.

      • inmycorner says:

        Of course you can – you just have to be yourself – and your writing demonstrates that you have the ability to communicate well – just pretend your students are the audience for a blog post. grin.

      • pepesapam says:

        🙂 will do it next time…last month, i took my first class and i could see blank faces of my students staring at me, i still remember those faces 🙂 anyways thanks a lot i will try to be better teacher next time with your advice…

      • inmycorner says:

        Ha – oh, don’t worry – I have lots of tips if you need them! I’m here for you. IF you want – but remember, I also dance and sing when I teach.

      • pepesapam says:

        yes yes..i would love to listen to a great teacher like you 🙂 ahh…dancing and singing that’s nice…i wonder whether i can do those stuffs…

  3. kiwiskan says:

    This is not permanent! And I love that quilt… You do still seem to be putting words together well – still a born writer.

  4. You’re so beautiful Stacey. I have never seen you, but I can envision you. You matter to so many.

    • inmycorner says:

      grin. I have beautiful hair! Thanks, Colleen. I have been blessed with the presence of so many beautiful people for sure. I don’t know why my life has been like this – I appreciate it.

  5. Martin Langmuir says:

    I should be busy packing and organizing things to escape to the south for 4 months but here I am reading your post and writing back,
    Chemo has a way of killing cancer but a lot of other things with it that slow you down and I am still feeling the effects, get to get going instead of sitting here, but just had to say hello, wish you the very best, keep up the spirits( bald is beautiful, I should know ) and I will stay in in touch to follow your progress.
    Love
    Martin

    • inmycorner says:

      You have a bit of “Duff” in you it seems! grin. THanks for taking time out to say hello, Martin. ANd yes, – get packing – I’d be so gone by now!!!! Best to you too,
      love,
      stacey

  6. Gwen K says:

    So happy and proud of all that you and your colleagues have accomplished at the Learning Centre. So many of the students that you meet there have been let down by the system. They are so blessed by you all.

  7. M Hefkey says:

    Stacey, I am not surprised that your have the support of so many students whose lives you have touched. As the guidance counselor at the BLC responsible for the intake and timetabling I cannot tell you how many times I had students request you as their teacher. Sometimes it meant taking many more English classes than they required to graduate…but they didn’t care. “I just want Stacey as my teacher”. Many students had an amazing connection to you and found that you reengaged them in the learning process like no other teacher had been able to do in the past. With adult learners, who have not had many good learning experiences, making a connection with a teacher is something they never dreamed could happen. Over a 20 year period, the number of lives you touched is an amazing number. Too many to count! Well done!!!!

    • inmycorner says:

      Oh, my goodness, M Hefkey – you made “me” cry! Thank-you so much – I think I’m going to print this comment out and frame it to bring my mood up on my bad days! You are so kind to remember these requests. I’m sure there were equally as many who said ABS! (Anybody but STacey!) Like you – I was passionate about their success. We were a good team, weren’t we? We had such a good community at the BLC who were all in it for the good of the students – and that made all of our jobs much easier to do! Love you, M Hefkey! Thank-you.

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