5/30: Thank You to my Elementary School Teachers & Friends

The Power of Consistency

I got to go to the same elementary school from Junior Kindergarten all the way to Grade 8; on account of the stability of living in the same house. And that house was just around the corner from school. Rain, shine, or snow I walked to school every day. Uphill only one way, plus home for lunch for a decade.

I love the idea of the same school from JK to Grade 8. I think it allows children to keep their innocence longer. Even at that age, I found the idea of middle school abhorrent. Awkward tweens trying to be bigger, older, and badder than they really were. Not at all necessary. And not something you saw at my school.

Staying at the same school meant you walked the same halls as little 4, 5, and 7 year olds. You were always reminded that by 12, 13, and 14 you were supposed to be “setting a good example” for them.


Small schools like this also mean that as you get older you can still make every sports team. Even if you’re objectively terrible at it. Like me. I was on the cross country, basketball, volleyball, and soccer teams. I even did track and field.

Oh yes. Somehow at barely 5 feet tall I got to represent my school at the big meet for, you never could’ve guessed it: high jump. I still remember the scissor kick thing you do running in a semi-circle side-ways up to the bar. Other years I did triple jump or long jump. Against all physical stature odds – I did it. I did all different sports. I was terrible at all of them. And I always got a participation ribbon (it was the 90s, ok).


While of course everyone played a part in my development, there were a few teachers who stood out: 

  • Mrs.  Ross –JK Teacher – who lived so close-by that we would trick-or-treat at her house every Halloween – Thank you for initiating my love of learning and for always letting us come by to say hi!
  • Mrs. Poitras – Grade 1 Teacher – I liked reading time on the carpet – Thank you for instilling the value of reading in me.
  • Mrs. Mitchell – Grade 4 Teacher – Thank you for shaping me.
  • Mr. Dodson – Grade 7 Teacher – Thank you for challenging me; in math and more.
  • Mr.  Bogensburger – Grade 8 Teacher – (and yes a familiar name again. The uncle of my friend Adam Bogensburger). Thank you for being a fun teacher with adventures like Canada’s Wonderland.
  • Mme. Iacoe – French Teacher – thank you for being such a great teacher. I’m sorry that I would flip my retainer in and out of my mouth using only my tongue. Upon reflection it really is quite gross. Though at the time I thought I was quite skillful.
  • Miss Croizer – our secretary who was that ever consistent rock. Not too cheerful, but just pleasant enough to brighten anyone’s day. Thank you for watching us grow up and helping out all the students.
  • Mrs. Reece – our principal who you’ll learn more about in tomorrow’s post. I have so much to thank you for.

2 teachers in particular made a massive difference in my life: Mme. Coulter and Mrs. McPhee.

Mme. Coderre – Grade 5

Mme.  Coderre was my Grade 5 Teacher. And she made us write. A LOT.  Story after story. I loved it. I wrote about princesses, plaid, and so much more. I was a very creative kid who had recently grown to love reading. Writing was a natural next step.

I was also lucky enough to be one of the few kids who had access to a computer. I would type my stories out and use every font imaginable. You think comic sans is bad? That was a palatable staple compared to the curvy monstrosities I’d choose to match my stories. Giving no regard for how legible it was to the teacher, I would pick the font that matched my story’s aesthetic: elegant, classy, spooky, or silly. Even better, I would print it out on coloured paper as often as I could. Just for the novelty of it: pink, orange, red, green. Ah yes, barely legible black cursive ink on dark green paper. Thank you Mme. Coderre for bearing with all of that.

I loved writing so much that I decided I wanted to be an author that year. In fact, I continued writing fiction stories right through high school. I wrote character development plans and chapter after chapter from Grade 5 to Grade 11. Mme. Coderre saw my love of stories and helped me go to the local Young Authors Conference. I really appreciated that. I still remember walking through the hotel ballroom meeting actual writers!

Thank you Mme. Coderre for giving my creative mind a free flowing place to run wild. Thank you so much for having us write. Thank you for the huge impact you’ve left on my life.

Mrs. McPhee – Grade 6

Mrs. McPhee, my Grade 6 Teacher, is partially responsible for my ongoing love of music and singing in public. In tandem, of course, with my Piano teacher, Mrs. Monia McNally and my voice teacher, Mrs. Aggie McCarthy. More on those 2 in a future post.

Mrs. McPhee made me sing at school. In front of everyone. SOLOS! It was very nerve racking. Thank you for pushing me outside my comfort zone.

Mrs. McPhee had been putting on plays and talent shows since time immemorial. They weren’t just any shoddy shows. They were extravagant. Every grade would learn a song and choreography. Talent show acts had to practice in the gym before the big day—multiple times. The school was so lucky to have her. That kind of arts and music investment in children seems to exist only in days gone by now.

Thank you so much for all of your investment in music, not just in me, but in thousands of children across all different grades over the years. You gave so many kids opportunities that they never would have had otherwise. You could get the whole school of over a hundred kids from 4 to 14 to sing the same song altogether. You had a gift. You must know. Thank you so much Mrs. McPhee.

Elementary School Friends

The elementary school friends I spent the most time with were:

  • Nora-Beth Saunders
  • Ari Olthius
  • Adam Bogensburger

Thank you for playing with me over the years. From barbies to bike rides. From trampolines to toboggans. Thank you for being fun friends adding a richness to my early years.

Special thanks to Nora-Beth for our foray into the world of boys together. I was in Grade 8 when I used the phone book at her house to call the home phone of this boy at a different school in Grade 7 who I knew liked me (thank you MSN) and I asked him out.

Apparently, I was always making the first move and creating my own destiny. Thanks for the moral support. And the phone book.

Thank you to all the teachers, staff, and fellow students who made my time in elementary school quite lovely.

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