Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

How lucky am I? I have so many amazing teachers to choose from that have impacted me – a rare few from my childhood, an amazing abundance from my present university adventure, and three family members, Lisa (my sister-by-choice), Margaret (my cousin) and my brother, Matt (now a principal). My friend Christine, who is both a teacher by training and a life-saver as an instructional assistant at McMaster. The many, many, many teachers and other educators that taught my children and others I have worked with or around in my almost 13 years of education work: Jason, Jenn, Kathy, Heather, Theresa, a plethora of outstanding teaching assistants – so many amazing folks make up my list of those who have impacted me.

There is, though, someone who changed my life and continues to do so by her continued presence in my life. My friend Laura is a truly gifted teacher (and given the list I’ve worked with, that’s saying a lot!). More than that, she is an honest and loyal friend. When you talk to her, she’s all in – she gives her caring opinion alongside her unending support. She makes me see the truth in situations that I need to change. She makes me laugh (often at myself) and keeps me honest.

It was a terrible situation that showed me Laura at her shining best – it was when I was struggling so hard with a work situation and I could simply walk into her office, sit down and cry. She knew that there were no words or actions that could change the situation; instead she made me feel better about myself. She was simply there, kleenex at the ready. She listened and shored me up to go back out there and keep on fighting the good fight.

My greatest hope is that somehow, somewhere along the line, I have been there for her too. She makes my life a whole lot shinier.