I'd say I made a LITTLE MAGIC happen this morning, during my second visit at Perspectives I, an alternative school in Montreal North.
I don't have a bunny to pull out of a hat, or a deck of trick cards, all I've got is STORIES. And the funny thing, the beautiful thing, the thing that makes everything we all go through worthwhile, is how people who are very different can connect through stories.
The students at Perspectives I haven't had it easy. But as I told them, it means they have stories. The question is: what are you going to do with your story? Can you change it up in some way? Is it possible another young person will read your story and learn from it or feel inspired or less hopeless?
So, let me tell you about the people in today's pic. That's the wonderful Miss Adair, the Grades 8&9 English teacher at Perspectives. (In addition to teaching, Miss Adair is part of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra choir -- and she plays hockey, too! Talk about a character for a book!!) The guy combing his hair is Isaiah (hey, correct my spelling if I got it wrong... Jason already sent me a big correction on yesterday blog entry -- tnx Jason!). Jason's in the red cap, standing next to me. (Have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for him!) At the front in the red sweatshirt is Marvin. Marvin wouldn't let me read what he wrote, but I didn't mind -- in fact, I was happy -- that's because I know Marvin was WRITING SOMETHING IMPORTANT. I THINK MARVIN FOUND HIS STORY!! The guy with the winter-y hat is Kevin (he says there's nothing especially interesting about him story-wise, though of course, I don't believe him!) The guy in the black baseball cap is Mikey. (Did I ever tell you one of my books has five Mikes in it?!) And the guy in black is Andrew, who's not in the class, but is a talented writer (way to go, Andrew!) and so the head teacher, Barbara White, arranged for him to be at my workshops too.
Here come some highlights of my visit: The students in the pic are in what's called "D" group, but I also worked with "C" group. When he was working on a description of life in a group home, Jason wrote that the place smelled like turkey. I TOTALLY LOVED THAT. I have never been to a group home, but Jason TOOK ME THERE (just like the singer Mavis Staples sings about!!) I told the students in both groups about my mum's experience in a Nazi concentration camp and I could tell that some of them, like Harry, really "felt" the story. Oh, I promised Harry (I think it was Harry!) that I'd post a sketch that was done of my mum before the Holocaust. (Here it comes, Harry!)
She didn't want to look at this sketch because it made her too sad, but she agreed to give it to me -- I keep it over my desk to remind me of good things and bad things... since that's life, no?... a combination of everything, with enough good things and hope to keep us moving forward.
The "C" group was... let's say... a little more challenging, but even they came around today. (I told you it was magic!!) When I talked about coming up with interesting settings for stories, Chris came up with a setting I've never used (and now I plan to steal your idea, Chris, hope you don't mind!): a bathroom!!! The first three words of Alexia's story made me call out, "Yes!!" Though she didn't want me to share them here, let's just say those three words totally hooked me -- and now I really want to read that story, Alexia!
CAN YOU TELL I HAD A GREAT DAY AT PERSPECTIVES I? Thanks you guys, for inspiring me with your courage and humour and goodness!!
I had a great time too and learned a lot from you and the students. Perspectives is such a great school and I am glad you found it to be inspirational. I really believe that these students have the most powerful stories inside them. Thanks for the amazing sessions (and I will use your writing secrets in the future).
Hi Anne, One of the bonuses of my visit to Perespectives I was meeting you! (Though I was a tad disappointed that you weren't a wizened old lady with grey hair!!) It's great when adults take part in the workshop, too. Glad to know you'll be using my secrets. Hope we cross paths again soon!