Saturday, November 23, 2013

A New Job

    I've not posted anything here for awhile.  I've been busy, and it's not about writing.
    Things have been happening at our youth drop in centre called The Beacon.  I had volunteered there often, before we built our house and lately I'd come back to it again. It is managed by Youth Unlimited, formerly known as Youth for Christ. The director, Andrew, withdrew to pursue other things and there was a leadership vacuum. All us volunteers wondered who would take over. A new Executive Director, a fellow not yet forty, took over for Northumberland County, but he couldn't be expected to run our little drop-in centre. Someone local was needed to organize the volunteers, speak at various venues to ask for funding, and be at the drop in most days.  I couldn't afford the time - I said to myself.
You could do it three days a week - a voice replied to me.
Shooting pool is the most common pastime
I'm not the right person for this  - Nobody is the right person, but you can do this... that voice seemed to say.

It didn't make sense for me to commit to anything this steady, and yet I kept getting the thought; you can do this -- you should do this.     Eventually I offered my services and was accepted in the position.  Everything since has fallen neatly into place. Funding seems to be coming from different places.  We got some extra attention from the local radio and newspaper (and the latter was unasked for). Some very capable people have stepped forward and offered to help supervise the kids. So, yeah, it's working.

   There are two pool tables (but not very level) and foosball, air hockey and free food for kids donated by local volunteers.  The place is safe and the people are kind.  Being volunteers for YFC requires a signed declaration of your intention to follow high moral standards both at the venue and in the community.  A "sainthood clause" as we teachers used to call it when we signed a similar agreement before being hired as a teacher in Ontario.

   Most of the other volunteers have done it for seven years - ever since it opened.
   As part of the job I am going to the local high school to help tutor some kids and also to run a Creative Writing club.  Some of the members are kids I taught a number of years ago, and who have taken writing seriously.  One, Jesee, puts out 600 - 700 page novels every few months.
Maybe Jesee will inspire me to write that much too...
We'll see.

two ball, corner pocket


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School

     Monday I had a pleasant morning visiting groups of Grade 7/8 students at Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School in London.  Since the visit required an early start, and a drive through Toronto rush hour in the early morning was just a stupid idea, we decided to go to London on Sunday and stay over.  Driving through the big smoke we tuned into AM 1010 and heard Mayor Rob Ford's not-so-mea-culpas.   I couldn't believe it. You can't make this stuff up.
 We spent the night in London, saw Shirley's old house, and thanks to the Writer's Union Writers In The Schools (WITS) program, we had enough subsidy so we could afford the little luxury of a nice hotel.

The school was very friendly and well-organized. I had been invited by the Teacher/Librarian Mrs. Popovic, to talk about Leaving Fletchville, which they had in the library, and also Canadian Disasters. Mrs. Popovic is the friendly kind of T/L that has all sorts of people coming to her library just to hang out and say hello and get lessons ready.  She warmly welcomed me and helped me find the electronics.  My laptop wouldn't connect to their system, but after some frantic moments and last minute sage advice, we got started.

As I was getting ready I also noticed the principal. Old school. He was standing centrally, greeting, observing, being friendly and knowing kids' names.  My old supply-teacher instincts told me I would have a good day here.  And I did.
Besides the active and welcoming principal, there was a relaxed staff and well mannered kids.  They even laughed in all the right places and perhaps heard of a few books which would appeal to reluctant readers.  I got a chance to use my new iphone 5 and do the panorama shot you see below.

Two groups came and we had fun.  A few disabled kids were integrated into and a socially strong part of the class.
So, yeah, sometimes I miss it.
A great day.