Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Thorncliffe Park: The World's Biggest School

Ok, the biggest elementary school in North America.
Thorncliffe Park has more than 2000 students. I met more than 200 of them.
We had three sessions and talked about a variety of subjects including the great kindness showed by Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri.
I came at the request of Miss Williams who was so kind she even arranged lunch with an outdoor view.
I interviewed Jeff Brown about his teaching experiences in Asia, Miss Bordornaro about the many jobs she has held and Miss Bates about her amazing experiences in South Africa.
We talked about how to write stories, how to listen with your whole body and how to grab a reader's attention.
I answered great questions from Asim, Fardin, Sara and Maryam.
I'm coming back next year to Thorncliffe Park.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Questions on the writing process at Rockford

The students at Rockford School have writing on their mind.
I met 60 students who peppered me with questions about writing books.
We talked a great deal about the process of writing: how long it takes, how to build characters, how to map out a story.
What a dynamite group. Diego and D'Andre had great questions. I met Phoebe, a budding author who has been reading and writing since she was three years old. Dana asked me about Banting and Best and the discovery of insulin
Mrs Seigel and I demonstrated how to interview and I learned all about her wonderful Dad and the new baby her sister gave birth to just yesterday.
I'd go back to Rockford anytime.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Talking Masai at West Humber

The Raptors new general manager is Masai Ujiri, a native of Nigeria.
At West Humber Collegiate, we talked about Masai's amazing 10-year-journey from European pro basketball
players to the Raptors' GM.
Masai is an example of where passion for what you do can take you. His first job involved working free of charge, scouring the globe for basketball players.
One of the great elements of the presentation is the Interview the Teacher segment. Invariably, I find the teachers have extraordinary stories of their own.
That was again the case at West Humber where Ms. Singh told me how she used to arrange her dolls and Barbies in a row so she could play teacher. Ms. Rahman told me the fascinating story of her family's struggle in Southeast Asia and how those struggles eventually ensured she would be born here in Canada.
Everyone has a story. The important thing is to listen with your whole body and ask questions based on the answers you receive.

The motto at West Humber is Build Character, Build Success. So true. Thanks to Ms. Rahman's gift, I will remember West Humber whenever I go for a cup of coffee.

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