The photo that will be appear first in this post was taken twelve years ago. Some students from Agnes Macphail Public School and I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet J.K. Rowling, hear her speak, and received autographed copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Two of these students were Andrew and Diana.
I've known Diana and Andrew since 2004, when I first came to Agnes Macphail Public School as their teacher-librarian. They've been in many classes I've co-taught with their classroom teachers and we've shared many experiences in extra-curricular clubs. Diana and Andrew graduated from the school in 2010. They visited regularly throughout their high school years and continued to support their alma mater in many ways. For instance, in 2013 they decided to create an incredible "Meet the Teacher / Meet The Creature" display for the hallway in time for Curriculum Night. They drew all the teachers as monsters. I still have my original copy and scanned the illustrations for use in our yearbook for that school year.
|Mrs. Maliszewski, the "library dragon"|
Speaking of yearbooks, Andrew was instrumental in designing and perfecting many of our elementary school yearbooks, even after leaving Macphail. Both Diana and Andrew graduated from high school in 2014 and went on to post-secondary education in different cities. Andrew helped create the yearbook (using Photoshop templates he designed) even while away at McGill University in Montreal. I'd send him files and my half-baked attempts at page layouts electronically and he'd send them back looking 1000% better thanks to his skills. My fellow teachers used to say, "You're spoiled with all the support Andrew gives you with yearbook. You better not get used to his being around forever." I have moved on to creating the yearbook with Ms. Keberer without his assistance. We now use yearbook companies with paid staff to assist us and pre-made layouts. (They don't look as good as the ones Andrew helped make.)
My interactions with Andrew and Diana are not limited to just completing projects and doing work. One social example - they introduced me to sushi. When they learned that I had never eaten sushi before, they pooled their money and brought me a big platter of different kinds. They took many photos documenting my reactions. I still don't like seaweed but I always get a few California rolls with wasabi at buffets thanks to their influence.
I received a Twitter DM last week from Andrew asking if he and Diana could stop by the school to visit. Naturally, I said yes. He came by at lunch and spent the afternoon doing what he often does when he comes by - being extremely helpful and accomplishing what needs to be done without even having to ask. He shelved books and added spine labels and tidied up while I taught my classes. Diana arrived after school with a surprise. As part of her last year of studies in Architecture, Diana traveled all over the world. She brought me a dozen of her watercolor sketches from her voyages, that she scanned and printed for me to keep. (These are just two of the incredible illustrations.)
I can't begin to tell you how treasured I feel to still be a part of the lives of these two wonderful young adults. Yes, the gifts they bring are lovely - like the pictures and the extra help in the library - but what I value even more is that they make the effort to come back to visit. That I am worthy of their time and attention is sometimes amazing to me. (Andrew commuted all the way from Barrie via public transit to see us.) We update, we joke, we reminisce, and we get glimpses of each others lives in between visits via social media. Diana is studying for her GREs and contemplating where she will go for her Masters in Architecture degree. Andrew is supporting his parents with their restaurant business and deciding what his next steps will be. I wish both of them health, wealth and happiness as they shape their future. They are both such considerate, talented and intelligent human beings and they will go far with whatever they choose to do.