You never now where your next provocation for a blog post may come from. This time, it came from @NoelineL in a little ditty that she posted.
The March edition of Canadian Living, p. 13, issues a challenge, to guys too: to share a story about two women, one personal and one historical, who have motivated you. Would you consider sharing?
Sure, I’ll share.
The only difficult part is to nail it down to just two women. Being in education, I can think of so many women who motivated and inspired me. A Director, Superintendents, Principals, colleagues, bloggers, and so much more.
But, I’ll name one person who I’ve always felt motivated and empowered by – Chris Stephenson.
It started with her really as a salesperson – but with a twist. I suppose ultimately there was a product that she was selling (computer science resources) but her approach was always to sell pedagogy. You couldn’t have a technical conversation with her; she had a person who quite ably talked about that. She always wanted to talk big sky and exit outcomes and rarely even mentioned her product.
One of my favourite moments as a speaker was when she invited me to address a group of Computer Science teachers at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall. Chris was president of ACSE (Association of Computer Science Educators) at the time. I suspect that it was the most perfect acoustic place that I’ve spoken in. I distinctly remember being fitted for a headset microphone and standing up from getting ready to talk and all that I could hear was this haunting noise that resembled the Phantom of the Opera. I looked out into the audience and mouthed to Chris “is that me?” She nodded yes. You see, it was in February and I had my annual chest cold and the heavy breathing that went along with it was pretty gruesome.
ECOO (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) really grew and flourished under Chris’ guidance when she became the president of the organization. She had a vision and assembled a team that made things happen, including a very good friend of mine who was her vice-president.
In Ontario, Chris became the premier voice for Computer Science education before leaving us to take on a leadership role in the fledgling Computer Science Teachers’ Association. I was so fortunate in that she took me along to help with the annual conference every year since the first one, to speak at various locations, and add my thoughts about Computer Science teacher education. Somehow, she had followed me and realized that I was teaching the University of Windsor course. Now, she’s moved on and is bringing her advocacy and abilities to Google’s Computer Science initiatives.
Throughout all this leadership though, it was never “about Chris”. The greatest tribute that Chris could give to a speaker was “I could listen to him read the phone book”. It’s amazing to look back at her career and all that she left behind – a cadre of passionate educators who became more passionate and better at their craft because of her efforts.
This is even tougher. There was one historical figure that I really did a great deal of research on at one point – Joan of Arc.
I’m not sure what inspired me to do this, studies in class, a look at British history having grown up in the Anglican Church, love of horror movies, or ???
Or maybe it was because of the deep dedication to a cause leading to the ultimate punishment at age 19.
I think that all of us looked for someone to model things. I think that we all bounced from person to person depending upon our growth and development at the time. I suppose that I could have been influenced by a Canadian politician, a musician or band, or any of the other things that teenagers focus their attentions to but I didn’t. I was very much focused on Joan of Arc.
Yet, there was something about the dedication and mission of her that stuck with me; the message of deciding what you stand for; determine your mission in life and then follow it with great fervour.
Thanks, Noeline, for the challenge to share.