A Caring Teacher

February 4, 2012

in Uncategorized

As parents we have all been exposed to the ‘Parent Teacher Interview’. I remember as a child dreading the return of my parents following their interview with my teachers. I knew they would hear the standard, which was always: 1) Susan’s grades are good ~ 2) Susan talks to much in class ~ 3) Susan socializes to much in class. Needless to say, I was a busy student and the social side of school was very important to me.

Interestingly, I seem to have similar interviews with my children. My three children all do very in school and they are extremely social. I’m reminded, once again that the Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree which brings me to my story about a very caring teacher.
Last year, my daughter (Sophia) who is an A+ student was in her first year of junior high. Grade 7 as we all know is an interesting transition. Elementary school and it’s structure and teacher driven schedules seem to fly away the moment you walk into the ‘other’ side of the school. My daughter, being extremely social and usually very capable of handling her school work plus her social behaviour, found herself in this new world of self discipline, student driven schedules, no recesses to chat and linger and a heavier work load. The balancing act she was accustomed to didn’t seem to be working in junior high.
Report cards came out and surprisingly a few of her grades had dipped, only slightly but this is something she nor her teachers had ever seen before with her. Parent Teacher interview time quickly approached and I received an email from her Geography History teacher, Mr. Brad Clooney. Mr. Clooney knew Sophia well and he knew what she was capable of. His email requested that Sophia be present at our interview, to which her father and I quickly agreed to.  On the day of the interview I could tell that my lovely Sophia was slightly nervous and unsure of what Mr. Clooney’s intentions were. Through her eyes I could see concern, the same concern I had as a 13 year old girl. What would he tell my parents? Is he going to tell them how much I talk and focus on socializing rather than listening? How much trouble am I going to be in after this? She was clearly unsettled and deeply concerned about what would be revealed during the conversation. As her parents (and like most parents) we know our kids well. I was pretty sure that Mr. Clooney was going to highlight Sophia’s socializing and the dip in her grade was due to her lack of attention, etc. I wasn’t worried but I played the parent card well and let my (at the time) 12 year old daughter know how serious this was, we were being called in by the teacher and her presence was requested. It was serious.
We arrived at the interview and Sophia was nervous but poised. Mr. Clooney began to talk to us about her marks and went through his detailed information. We all listened intently and then Mr. Clooney asked Philip and I if he could direct the conversation towards Sophia. We always knew that Mr. Clooney was a great teacher and the students greatly respected him but for Philip and I, this is when Mr. Clooney showed who he really was and the the extraordinary teacher that he is. Mr. Clooney said to Sophia, “Sophia, you are a very smart girl, you are socialable, very outgoing and a joy to teach. You engage in interesting conversation and you have a great interest in your classes. Unfortunately, your marks aren’t reflecting this. Sophia, you are better than this, you are a scholar student and you are operating below your natural ability.” He went on to ask her if she was happy with her grades and if she thought this was her best effort. He talked to her and during the conversation he masterfully allowed Sophia to see what she was capable of through her schooling. He brought her to a place that was hard, she had to accept responsibility and then make a mature decision to make the necessary changes to bring the gold that he saw within her. Mr. Clooney is a wonderful teacher and an engaging teacher, as I said earlier the kids respect him, they have fun with him whilst he teaches them. In this instance, Mr. Clooney put on the strong teacher hat and took an opportunity with our child to set her on the right track. Mr. Clooney challenged her, corrected her and disciplined her. He did this wisely and seasoned with wisdom.
Sophia came away from our meeting inspired and grateful. She recognized what Mr. Clooney did and how he took a risk at telling her exactly what he thought. She knew he wasn’t impressed with the work she was putting forward, she had disappointed him and us. Sophia determined that day to accept Mr. Clooney’s challenge and from that day on, instead of grade 7 being a weird and awkward year, it became a year she will remember. We are grateful that Mr. Clooney took the time to simply care about his student. He truly is a caring teacher and a teacher I believe Sophia will remember for lifetime all because he cared about her and made a point of really teaching her.
What Mr. Clooney did in that interview was true teaching. Yes, he is her Geography/History teacher and he helps her learn about the world but that day he truly taught a young girl how to be all that she can be. That’s why we are grateful. Sophia was given the opportunity to see herself through eyes other than her own, other than her parents, she saw herself through the eyes of a teacher who believes in her. Sophia is once again excelling in every area of school life, her grades are back to their great standing and her social life remains strong and healthy.
To all the teachers out there, may you never underestimate or forget the incredible impact you have and can have on young lives. Kids need your wisdom and to simply know, like Mr. Clooney, that you care.
Susan xo
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For Hazel

January 17, 2012

in Relationships, Wisdom

Today I’m having a tough day. I just had a phone call telling me that a woman who goes to our church is in the fight for her life. She is fighting cancer and has been a valiant soldier. My heart breaks as I think about her journey and the thought of not seeing her in her regular seat at church.
Her name is Hazel and strangely we are not close but Hazel has impacted my life greatly. At best, we are acquaintances and members of the same church who great each other each week with a smile and a brief conversation. My husband is one of the main singers at our church and Hazel has made a point of telling me how much she enjoys it when he sings at church. We’ve talked about my children and life in general and she is always masterful at bringing joy into the conversation and seeing the bright side of every situation.

When I first met Hazel I didn’t know she was in the fight of her life. I thought she was one of most attractive older women I had ever met. Her smile told a story that I craved to hear, her eyes drew me in like a good book on a warm summers day, her voice was soothing and every word seemed to be seasoned with wisdom. Hazel was one of the reasons I looked forward to Sunday mornings, seeing her in her regular seat and engaging with a smile made the world feel okay.

She may never know the impact she has had on my life. She may never know how I longed for our brief interactions, our smiles across the isle and how I enjoyed watching her soak up the music and the words as my husband sang. Yet most important, for me, was how she gave me this gentle nod that spoke of acceptance, that told this mother of three that it’s all going to be okay and you’re doing a good job. All in a glance, a sweet smile and a gentle nod. Hazel was a true communicator and someone who I will remember for a lifetime.

I wish she could know the things she taught me on these Sunday mornings. Through her life I have seen strength, perseverance, courage, determination, kindness, gentleness, sweetness and love. So today, I simply pray, I believe and I thank God for a life well lived and in these prayers I ask God to teach me to be a woman like Hazel.

Susan xo

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Family life

The Strength of $1.49

December 7, 2011 0 comments

The countdown to Christmas is here and from what I witnessed this weekend, the shopping frenzy has started. The malls are bursting with people and the hum of conversation almost drowns out the carols that are being played through the internal sound system. The parking lots have become more like scenes from movies like ‘Gone [...]

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Being organised

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November 30, 2011 0 comments

Well friends, we are three weeks from Christmas. It’s hard to believe that we’re already listening to carols, buying gifts and wrapping paper and our ovens seem to be constantly churning out some of our family favourites.
Last week, my mother came to Calgary to teach me how to make her Christmas Cakes. She [...]

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Recipes

Chicken Burgers…. with a twist

November 19, 2011 0 comments

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These Chicken Burgers are a ‘must have’ for our family when we are in LA, visiting our friends, the Crockers. It’s taken years for me get this recipe [...]

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Recipes

Red Thai Chicken Curry

November 14, 2011 0 comments

Okay, for all of you who follow us regularly and who LOVE our ‘tried & true’ familyroom recipes, this one will NOT disappoint.
Barry Crocker Jr. and his lovely family are some of our closest friends and whenever we are together one thing is for sure…. we will EAT! We love getting together and it’s always [...]

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Uncategorized

Tricks, Treats & Costumes

October 27, 2011 0 comments

Halloween is almost here and what fun this one day brings. Children get the opportunity to dress up and enjoy parties at school and then race through their neighbourhoods/towns in an effort to fill pillow cases and Halloween bags with treats that will last throughout the year. As a child, Halloween was one of those [...]

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Recipes

A Warm Bowl of Goodness ~ Porridge

October 13, 2011 0 comments

Well friends, I’ve just read an article that says Western Canadians can expect one of the top three coldest winters in the last 20 years. As someone who moved from the sunny shores of Australia to Canada, I can assure you, that the article was not read with joy nor excitement.

As I wrote in an [...]

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Recipes

Brussel Sprouts by Demand

October 6, 2011 0 comments

Well friends, this is probably the second most requested recipe on our site. Additionally, it’s one that friends and family have enjoyed whilst dining at the ‘Sohn Kitchen’ on many occasion. Just last night I had another Facebook request for this delish dish. My friend Clare, who is the mother of three beautiful children (aged [...]

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Being organised

Pass the Potatoes Please

September 29, 2011 0 comments

Many or most of you know that my passion is family. I grew up in a great family and we lived in a wonderful home. Our home was one that was created and specifically designed to grow strong family. With that goal in mind, my parents worked tirelessly to make sure our needs (physical, emotional [...]

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