From Kathryn Walmsley, Elizabeth School:
We were super impressed with Cathy Ostlere, and students felt an immediate connection to her. She had touched briefly on the loss of her brother, and her motivation for writing Lost. While she didn't present this in an emotional way, students felt very sad for her in discussion after she left. She made an impression on students, and they all wanted to continue the writing they started with her, and publish it. I was not only impressed with her discussion, but students were so engaged and asking high level questions, and not just the regular who, what, where, when, deals, real, meaningful questions!
The author of "Run like Jager", Karen Bass, went to my son's school in the afternoon, and he was completely enthralled with everything to do with WWII. He has a cognitive delay, and he was spouting facts, and making connections, and as parents who are teachers, we realize what a difficult process this is to engage learners like him, and have them remember actual facts, and even years...SO IMPRESSED!!!!
From Shaula Corr, Nelson Heights School:
Recently, Nelson Heights School had the honor of hosting two authors, Cathy Ostlere and Karen Bass. What an amazing day we all had! The authors were very engaging with the students and the students loved every minute. Each author spoke to one grade level at a time for a full 80 minutes. This meant that each author had an audience of approximately 66 students and each author managed to keep them spellbound and asking questions without anyone getting antsy or disruptive. For a middle school that is truly saying something!
The overall effect on our students was amazing. There was such a buzz in the air next day with many students running to ask if we do that again. What was most interesting is that each class that I had the next day brought up the subject of the visit and started asking questions before I even had the chance to broach the subject.
Many students were riveted by the stories of World War II and in fact, more books on this already popular topic have been signed out in the past few days since the visit. Students who had already begun to think of writing stories were now headlong into writing a story and students who may not have thought of writing before, are now eager to do so. As for our readers, I now have quite a waiting list to read the books that were written by Ms. Ostlere and Ms. Bass.
From Colleen Schaffner, Fort McMurray Composite High School:
We have hosted a few visiting authors before but never has the audience's reaction to them been as responsive as with these two storytellers: Denise Miller and Tololwa Mollel. The passion and excitement generated by these speakers was immense with students taking part interactively by singing along with Denise Miller to the Windayo Cherokee song of blessings. It is really heartening to hear as I did one of my own French Language students humming it yesterday when he entered the classroom. Denise held her audience in such rapt suspense that I had to go in and remind them to leave as the bell had rung. After the sessions Denise confided to me that she connects with her audience and tries to make eye contact with audience members. She recalled one young man whose 'spirit' was closed as he made no eye contact with her and looked away. But, she said, after her Windayo song and the story of the Skeleton Woman he began gradually to open up so that by the time of the Lakota thank you song he was one of the most open and fully engaged of the listeners.
Tololwa Mollel brought laughter and tears to his audience with his anecdotes from the theatre and his story of the hunter and his daughter. His message and the symbolism he used to deliver that message, the folktale, was deeply appreciated by all with many questions being asked after he concluded his story. Our student body comprises many nationalities and among the audience there were two African girls. I asked them what they thought about Mr. Mollel's performance and they shyly said that it reminded them of home.