I remember the first time I ever heard of Alice Munro. I was in grade 11 and a struggling English student. My teacher Mr. C was about to change all that. Here’s my story.
I had just completed an independent study and when I got the paper back I had just received one of my first “A’s” in English. I was thrilled but I wondered why. I remember Mr C explaining to me that I was a story teller and that I should consider a career in journalism. He gave me hope that I might be good at something. Until then school had been extremely challenging for me.
In primary school I was diagnosed with ADD with learning disabilities associated with both language and math. Bummer!
This was the seventies and children were not overly kind to those who were struggling in school.
I was called names and I questioned my intelligence.
That was the beginning of my dance with poor self esteem and it didn’t help when my grade eight teacher recommended that I take general courses the following year for high school. I was so disheartened.
This was the summer that I was leaving my small home town to start over in Mississauga. It would mean starting at a new high school. I showed up at the new high school in August and spoke with the guidance counsellor. He asked me what classes I would like to take and I neglected to tell him of my former teacher’s recommendation . Screw it… I was going to take advanced classes!
I was struggling until grade 11 when the two English teachers caught on that I was neither dumb nor lazy…. just insecure. It made all the difference.
These teachers, Mr. C and Mrs. D, would bring out the best in me and introduce me to a whole new world of literature that excited me.
I read Margaret Atwood , Alice Munro, Margaret Lawrence and Carol Shields soon after. Great Canadian women authors . Strong women that told me to toughen up and find a new destiny and drop the dumb identity I felt I had to wear. I graduated two years later with honours in high school (advanced classes and all).
My life would take me on a great journey after high school and I would eventually marry an amazing man and have two great boys. I would have a great corporate career in marketing and eventually become an entrepreneur where I would discover and become friends with amazing writers like Kathy Buckworth, Anne Day, Alyson Schafer and Ann Douglas.
I wonder where my life would have taken me had I not met those great english teachers. I also wonder what life would have been like for me if I had not discovered those strong female authors. Would I be where I am today? I doubt it.
Maybe. I always had a distant belief in breaking barriers and exceeding expectations so maybe way down deep in my soul I knew this day would come.
Congratulations Alice Munro! Strong talented women like you help to change the path for so many of us!