Monday, May 4, 2015

Angels in Average Places

I had a very busy past week. Things don't always go as we plan them, but somehow, there are often unsung heroes around who will help you get out of jams. I wanted to profile a few people who saved my proverbial bacon.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Teacher-Librarian Quadrant Meeting

Francis Ngo

Francis poisoned me and then stabbed me on Monday.

Francis tried to kill me and then saved my life.
Better title?

How about the story itself? Francis Ngo is an amazing teacher-librarian from Pineway Public School. After the teacher-librarian quadrant meeting, which Francis attended and I co-ran, we wanted to reconnect. He came over for dinner and insisted on bringing something to contribute to the meal. He went to a nearby bakery and returned with gourmet cupcakes. I chose to eat the one that he said was "sea salt caramel". Turns out the crumbly things on the top weren't salt chunks, but actually peanuts. I'm allergic. Francis drove me to the nearest hospital. While in the waiting room, my breathing became more shallow and I realized my throat was closing up. Francis injected me with my Epi-Pen. He stayed with me for the now-required four hours of observation to ensure I didn't relapse, and took me to the 24-hour pharmacy to refill my epinephrine prescription. Francis definitely isn't comfortable with the idea of being a hero - because he said he was the one who endangered my life in the first place - but I think he did a phenomenal job of keeping calm and helping me survive.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

GTA Resource Fair

Unnamed Student

I didn't want to name the particular student who saved me tons of hassle and inconvenience because I don't want to embarrass her. I drove six students to the GTA Resource Fair so that they could help me purchase books for our school library collection. When I did this in the fall, I had a student vomit all over the back seats of my car. Unfortunately, to compound the problem back then, the student puked as we were going TO the fair, so I had no supplies to help me clean the mess. That made for a rather unpleasant ride back to school. This time, I advised my passengers to let me know if they were feeling carsick, as I had packed plastic bags "just in case". Thank goodness for willpower and self-control! One of my students, after an hour of stop-and-go traffic on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, asked for a bag and as soon as she received it, violently emptied the contents of her stomach - without spilling a drop in the car! She even tied the bag shut and threw it in the garbage can as soon as we arrived at the CNE. Thank you for being so considerate, even when you weren't feeling your best, "Secret Student".

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

TDSB East Library Learning Commons Showcase


I was supposed to present from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at this annual marketplace-style event. I forgot that we had a staff meeting at lunch that day, so I left late and arrived even later. The parking lot of Cosburn Middle School was full, so I drove around the unfamiliar neighbourhood and parked on a side street. I carried with me my purse, cloth bag with handouts, two laptops, display board, and my Minecraft Villager costume. To say my hands were full was an understatement. I was disoriented from driving around to find a spot for my car, and I got lost. I walked past East York Collegiate Institute and several students checked their phones to give me directions. I walked and walked, but couldn't take more than about ten steps before I had to stop to pick up a dropped bag and my hands were quivering with fatigue. I broke the villager's arm and nose in the bag from dragging it along the ground. I didn't have my cell phone because I left it at home, so I couldn't phone for help. I felt helpless, exhausted and alone. Then, a lovely older woman on a bike stopped and said, "You look like you could use some help. Can I help you?"
"Yesssss", I answered in a burst of tears. There I was, bawling on the sidewalk just a block from the school, feeling utterly defeated, and this wonderful person locked up her bicycle and helped me carry my awkward, bulky load into the school. I asked her name, thanked her profusely, and gave her a hug. She said, "Don't worry. I know you'll do a great presentation." It was 2:00 p.m. - I had wandered the streets of East York for about 45 minutes. The wonderful teacher-librarian of Cosburn Middle School, Kate Tuff, actually drove me to my car after the event. I was only three blocks away but I walked in the wrong direction and it was more like twelve blocks that I strayed. I'm sorry I missed a huge chunk of the soiree, but I'm so grateful for strangers willing to help a pathetic overburdened individual.

Tears wiped away - smiles at the TDSB LLR Showcase

Thursday, April 30, 2015

TDSB East Silver Birch Quiz Bowl

Jackie, Ann, Salma, Vicki, Janice, Kim, Keri, Rita, Siobhan, and some other forgotten names

Any hospital visits this time? Any tears of frustration? No, but when you bring ten schools together for an author visit and friendly reading competition, there are bound to be challenges, and this great group of volunteers pulled together to make the event a success. My Grade 5-6 teacher, who had been looking forward to this activity for weeks, got terribly sick (and she actually had to go to the hospital, so ignore the first sentence of this paragraph; it turns out there WAS a hospital visit as part of this story). The devoted teacher actually sent via email the questions she volunteered to create, but she couldn't complete the quiz for one of the books because she couldn't get her hands on the specific title beforehand. Enter the wonderful Jackie Burrell. She and I sat in a corner of the gym and quickly flipped through the book and created the required content. The teacher-librarian from Alexander Stirling P.S. also became terribly ill, and two staff members at her school volunteered to bring the group of students on TTC to the competition. Thank you for pinch-hitting! All of these great grownups did things like supervised students at lunch, wrote questions to ask the competitors, kept score, watched the buzzers, collected money for the selling of books written by our visiting author, made change, acted as MC, took photos, ordered lunch, and pulled their weight. The students had a wonderful time and many of them are already planning for next year.

Author Sylvia Taekema at the 2015 Silver Birch Quiz Bowl

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