The primary users of Conference2Classroom's services are experts attending conferences and teachers from schools in the host city. Being that our regular Thursday blog falls on Valentine's Day, our founder Rachel Kuzmich wanted to take a minute to reflect and give some love for her favourite teacher.
My parents never bought me skates. I've talked before about growing up in a blue collar town in a blue collar family but that is not entirely accurate. My parents never bought me skates because we were too poor and they couldn't afford it. My poverty was embarrassing to me when I was old enough to realize my used or hand-me-down clothes didn't fit as well as my classmates and they were from last season (or the season before). Being a kid is tough. You're so early in your development as a person and don't yet have the confidence to be the person you are. In my experience, the best teachers do more than teach the curriculum. They are genuinely interested in and encourage your development, and they help you when they can.
My parents couldn't afford to buy me skates but class trips to skate at the local arena were a common winter activity with the school. Sometimes I would have money to rent skates for the day. More often I didn't, so I sat in the bleachers and watched my classmates do laps around the rink. This pattern continued until my third grade teacher, Mme Thériault, gave me skates. They weren't brand new or brand name, they were definitely too big, but they were mine. And they were just what eight year old me needed. And this was just the kind of support eight year old me needed.
And it is something that thirty two year old me remembers fondly. It is funny sometimes the events in our lives that stick with us. I don't know whether Mme Thériault was aware of the impression she made on me and how much her support meant. I'm also certain that eight year old me couldn't have articulated it. I recall fastening the skates as fast as I could to join my peers on the ice. I also remember falling, a lot, because I couldn't skate!
It is this memory of Mme Thériault, along with many others of the important people who inspired me to do more and do better throughout my life, that inspire the work here at Conference2Classroom. We hope that the pathways we enable between experts and classrooms will stick with the children and youth in those classrooms.