I pull my hair into a ponytail, pull on my walking clothes, pull on ski pants, parka, toque, mitts, reflectors, boots, and head out the door. The cold air is delicious. Okay, life’s not so bad. I just have to survive three more days to winter break.
I text Victoria as I pass the All Nations Healing Hospital. “Happy birthday baby! <3”
“Thanks mommy J,” she texts back. Victoria lives in Regina with my sister and attends Western Christian High School. Seventeen years ago she was my first born.
I’m plodding along. I can’t make myself pick up the pace. My cheeks are cold, so I pull the balaclava over my face. The sun shines over the hills and I would just sit down in the field and soak it in if there wasn’t a classroom and students at the other end of my walk.
The hallways are full of staff and students when I come in the back door at 8:33am. I log into my computer and this message has been forwarded to my email:
Hey Mrs. Koops,
I felt like I should tell you this, and I'd like to tell you while its fresh in my mind, so I thought of facebook. Simple enough, and fast. Anyways, I was reading a few of your blog entries.. And they got me thinking (more than usual anyways..)
Your Treaty Walks are to help you understand the Treaties... But as much as they are that, they seem a lot like a journey of self discovery, or self learning at least. Having been going through a couple rough years I think I'll be going through a lot of that soon. I want you to know how much of an inspiration your determination is. The journey you are on can't be an easy one, and the decisions you make every day to continue your Treaty Walks, even when you're tired or just don't feel up to it, are decisions that I find admiration for.
That's one thing I wanted to let you know... Another thing, is reading Day Eight-One in particular, made me think of how much I take for granted in my education. My teachers, you included, have all gifted me with something very precious, and that is knowledge that I can use to go far in life. I'm not always the best student; I know I procrastinate a lot... And I feel as if I'm not giving my teachers what they deserve. My success reflects on all my teachers, even if only a little, and because my teachers have given me what they did, I should try as hard as I can to achieve all that I can.
I wanted to thank you for helping me realize this with your Treaty Walks Mrs. Koops, and thank you again for being such an amazing teacher.
I'll be graduating high school soon, but I know that my ELA classes with you will always have a special place in my heart, just like our poetry exchanges.
This may be a little out of the blue, but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your part in my education and life, Mrs. Koops. I don't always show it, but thank you.
I am in slow-moving tears, slow like my footsteps this morning, when Kelsey’s blonde head appears in the doorway. “Kelsey. Thank you. I just read your message.”
She comes in the room and gives me an immediate hug. She elaborates a bit more on the reading and what it means to her, and I wipe the trail that flows down my cheeks. I don’t see Kelsey for the rest of the day, but her words walk with me, holding my hand.
Three of my boys have an interview scheduled for this afternoon with Special Constable Francis Delorme. In period five they set up their audio equipment in the Community Room, pull their file from the cabinet, and borrow a camera from Mrs. Brooks. All three of them sit at the front entry on a bench, waiting for Francis. They start their interview and again, I’m so proud at how grown up they are.
Three of my girls are working on their article about Sandy Pinay Schindler. I encourage them to think of an attention grabbing lead. They’ll be able to show it to Michelle after the break, and she can help them more with the craft.
Four of my boys are phoning their interview subject. “Really? All four of you have to phone,” I say once, but then let them do their thing.
Now school is over. Michael has picked up Arwen from her afterschool Bingo and they are off to buy Victoria cards and a gift. Moira has gone to Ryan’s and will meet us at the Baggett’s for supper in half an hour.
I’m tired, but what can I say after a day like today? An every-day like today. I look down in front of my computer and see the picture my colleague, Phil, gave me as I he opened my classroom door for me this morning, my arms full. It’s him and his wife sitting in the middle of students he met this Christmas in the Dominican Republic. They spent their holiday volunteering, teaching teachers some innovations in education. They lived right in the humble compound, acclimatizing pretty quickly to no hot water and outdoor classrooms. We gave them a small donation and Roz sent a card, a purple petal flower centered against green foliage with the quote: “Each small kindness, like a seed, grows tall in memory.”