Saturday, March 26, 2011

Too Late

When I arrived at HGS in the fall of 1986, I was ill prepared. After drifting through public school for 9 years, I decided I wanted to go to private school. Before HGS, I liked history, geography and English; I struggled in French and Latin and was baffled by math and the sciences. Perhaps I was not the best candidate for HGS but I knew HGS was where I needed to be. Luckily, I found myself in a legendary class – some familiar faces, others new. It was the class of ‘3:15’, Strat-o-matic Hockey, the hockey pool and where almost everyone had a nickname ending in –er.

I had exceptional teachers including Mrs. Aterman who, in one fell swoop, both terrified and enthralled me. She did not ask when things happened but why they happened and the consequences – that was a change from public school. She challenged me and I desperately wanted to do well in her class. But I didn’t and by the end of grade 10, Mrs. Aterman said HGS was not the place for me. Well, as another teacher pointed out - I made decisions for myself and I didn’t always make choices that were easy on me - so I stayed.

I continued to just get by for the next two years but (most) every assignment improved. And when I didn't succeed, I learned more about what was expected of me. She spent months years teaching me how to properly research and write a paper. So, in my first year of university when I missed deadlines and exams due to illness my grades did not suffer. I owe this to Mrs. Aterman and her determination to teach me to write a proper thesis statement, to follow through on that statement and to ensure that what I wrote was I meant (DNSWYM – anyone?).

Somehow, she was convinced (along with the art teacher) to accompany our class to Europe in Grade 12 – that must have been JG’s doing! And what better first introduction to Paris, Munich and Florence than with an art teacher and a history teacher – I know I thought, at the time, that if I saw another church I was going to die - but we had fun!

When I read Mrs. Aterman's obituary last week, I finally understood why she pushed me so hard - it is a wonder she didn't just wallop me - she should have! I am proud to have been one of her “heathen lot”. I am sorry I never had the chance to thank her properly.

1 comment:

Tybalt said...

We had the same thought about Mrs. Aterman and her obit. I never understood, although the similarities she had to my grandfather are downright scary.

Nice to see your blog here. Bookmarked.

Craig Burley