Wow! Talk about a blast from the past! Alexandra was in my Science 9 class in my very first FULL year of teaching. Not to give away her age, but that was a LOOOONG time ago! The following year I remember teaching her Math 9 (she was a little weaker in math than all her other subjects). Alex was not shy of telling me that "you are a way better Science teacher than Math teacher, Mr. Wadge!". And, at that time, I believe she was right. My degree (and my teacher training) was all in Science and teaching Math was uncomfortable and difficult for me. Sixteen years later, I hope that my Math teaching has improved a bit. I know I feel A LOT better about teaching it now (and pray I NEVER have to teach Science again).
One of my fondest memories involving Alexandra was on Valentines Day 1998 (1999?) when she was in grade 10 (I think). Somehow I found out that it was Alex's birthday that day (perhaps she told me). That evening, when I went home, I had plans to go to see a Japanese Taiko Drumming group (Kodo) with Zan and my mother-in-law. When I got home, however, I found out that Zan's mom was sick. We were brainstorming who we could invite (last-minute) to use her ticket. Suddenly (and, perhaps, curiously) I had the idea of inviting the sweet grade 10 birthday girl in my Math class.
I phoned Alex's mom (who I'd spoken to several times before) and asked her if it would be okay and she happily agreed. So off I went to the big city of Vancouver (all the way from Squamish) to enjoy the drumming show with my grade 10 student. I know it sounds weird but Alex and I had a special bond right from the very first few days I met her. She was VERY mature and a bit of an "odd duck" compared to the standard Squamish kid of the late 1990's. At the same time, I was a new, struggling teacher. We kind of looked to each other to get through some tough times!
I'm so, so, so happy that Alexandra and I have made the (sometimes tricky) transition from teacher - student to friend - friend!! We talk lots. We hang out from time to time. She introduces me to the tastiest eating establishments in Vancouver (especially of the hipster-diner variety) and we attend ultra-cool concerts together (Alex has impeccable musical taste... as do I. hahahaha)
I asked Alexandra to report on what she is up to these days. Here is what she wrote (in typical Alexandra-style):
Hustlin' for the legal system (I'm a legal assistant). Crushing my undergrad (after a 12 year hiatus filled with wild & wonderful travels and fast livin')
I'm lucky to have had Mr. Wadge for Science 9, and Math 9. He truly brought a sense of play to the classroom--perhaps because he was just a kid when he taught me (27!!). From what I hear, and know of him, not much has changed. I was a lousy math student but I still count Mr. Wadge among my closest friends. Only, I don't call him Mister anymore, it goes to his head..."
Alexandra, thank you for making a BIG difference with me during my first few years of teaching. At times, it seemed like you were the ONLY person who was listening, who was trying, who was learning! In my (many) times of despair, I would think of you (and a few other students) and think: "surely I can get more of these students to act like her". And I think I have! You were a beacon of hope for me during some very challenging days. I love you very much, Alexandra, and I am so thankful that you have remained in my life after all these (MANY!) years! One of the originals and still one of the very best!!!