Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

*Teacher tributes* May 22, 2010

The teachers in Grace Awakening are named after a number of memorable teachers I had throughout my school years. The flat characters are definitely not the same as the real teachers, but the names are a small salute to these amazing educators who were the inspiration behind my determination to become a teacher myself.   Here are the stories behind the names!

Dwight Moore– Mr. Dwight Wendell was my grade 10 English teacher.  Mr. Doug Moore was my teacher for Creative Writing 11.  Mr. Moore always had very stylish leather loafers!

M. Lavoie– my grade four teacher was Gerry Lavoie.  I still fondly remember his folk singing Language Arts lessons (and I can still sing all the verses of the many songs he taught us)

Mrs. Nemeth- Darlene Nemeth was my grade five teacher.   She was probably the firmest teacher I ever had, and I loved her for it after the fact.  I visited her both at home and her new school, and appreciated how welcoming she always was.

Mr. Swan is named after Mr. Swanzey, who was my Socials teacher several times throughout high school.  He was an innovative and enthusiastic teacher whose excitement for his subject was infectious and inspiring.  I don’t think he was ever a school first aid attendant, as Mr. Swan is.

Mrs. Hart the librarian is an amalgamation of the names of several dear librarians I’ve known.  First, is Debbie Hartley who was my Faculty Associate during my teacher training practicum with Simon Fraser University.  My children had the great pleasure of having her as their teacher-librarian at Hart Highlands Elementary in Prince George.  Debbie read children’s stories to us in our university class and held us all spellbound.  What an important lesson on the power of well-written children’s literature to touch all ages!  Mrs. Hart is also named after Alex Harbottle who was the school librarian in my elementary school and the first person to recommend that I submit my writing for publication.  Finally, there is Karen Horton who is an enthusiastic librarian colleague in Salmon Arm who does amazing things for our students.  You know, the library is the heart of a school, so the name touches that as well!

Dr. Collier Kyle– okay- Dr. Kyle isn’t a teacher, but Mr. Collier was my homeroom teacher in grade 9 and my grade 11 English teacher.  Kyle is for my nephew and several students I’ve had over the years as well as my daughter’s significant other. (I had nephew Kyle in my English class twice!).  It’s also a nod to the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios.

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While I’m at it, I might as well explain where the school names originated:

Redman High School: is an amalgam of Woodman Junior High, a school I actually attended in Calgary, and Dr. E. P. Scarlett (scarlet=red, of course) which is the senior high I would have attended if I had remained there.

Shuswap Lake Secondary: the secondary school in Salmon Arm where I teach is actually called Salmon Arm Secondary. (It is made up of two campuses: Jackson and Sullivan) The middle school in town is Shuswap Middle, and both schools have a lovely view of Shuswap Lake, so the fictional school  reflects all of these.   The imaginary school I have described is remarkably similar to the Sullivan campus of SAS, however. (Ech hem).

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2 Responses to “*Teacher tributes*”

  1. If I were to write a book with teachers in it, and name them as you did, there’d have to be a Keith Swan. Simple as that.

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      lol. I had a rather traumatic Drama 8 class with Mr Keith that colours that one. In balance with all the great musicals and my excellent results in French 11, you’re right he probably deserves a mention. I did lean heavily toward the English teachers!


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