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CONNECT WITH US
I AM WRITING to tell you about Lyn
Hancock, long-time author and inspirational speaker and once upon a time my
grade-six teacher. I turn ;; this year, and
Lyn is ;;. I was ;; years old when I became
one of the fortunate kids who got a chance
to raise a baby gibbon, Gypsy, in Lyn’s
classroom—a classroom where we were
surrounded by a menagerie of animals that
would later be featured in some of her best-loved books, beginning with There’s a Seal
in My Sleeping Bag.
As a writer, broadcaster and film-
maker, I can draw a line directly back to that
experience when it comes to setting my life
on a trajectory that is commensurate with
my gifts and talents. Monterey School is in
the heart of Oak Bay—behind the tweed
curtain, as they used to say—and was quite
unaccustomed to people like Lyn. At that
MISS DAG was my
grade-two teacher back
in the mid ’;;s. I’m sure
she has no idea how
so many moments of
kindness she showed
me impacted my life.
Miss Dag always
wore a locket. I remember her leaning over during circle time,
and being mesmerized watching her open
locket dangle back and forth. I reached
up and closed the locket; she stopped,
looked me in the eye, patted my cheek and
said, “Thank you.” To most this may seem
trivial; however, growing up in a dysfunctional home with an absent father and
a stepmother who showed nothing but
bitterness, it was huge for me. That day I
realized that I was worthy of kindness and
a gentle hand.
My husband gave me a gold locket
after the birth of our son. The clasp never
worked, so the locket always opened. My
husband wanted to return it to the jeweller to be repaired; ho wever, I didn’t want it
repaired. I felt it was that way for a reason.
I will be forever grateful to Miss Dag
for her gentle touch, her kind voice and
the fact she made me feel cared about.
Student: Jennifer Schulman
Teacher: Miss Dag
School: Chester Elementary School, Toronto
time schools didn’t assess the needs of people like me, a very dyslexic and awkward
southpaw who struggled in the traditional
classroom. Lyn grew up and got her teaching degree in Australia, where there was
a hands-on approach to learning, providing the perfect environment for bringing
out my true, yet often hidden, abilities.
My fellow students and I had the opportunity to care for Gypsy while graphing her
progress and finding inspiration when it
came to reports and, in my case, writing.
The book that I wrote as a grade-six student
became the basis for An Ape Came Out of
My Hatbox, which she wrote a decade later.
Since then I have had the opportunity to
get to know Lyn as a dear friend and continue to help her with new technologies and
media. She, in return, teaches me how to
paddle a kayak and treats me to her favourite eagle-spotting waters.
Student: Joani Herron
Teacher: Lyn Hancock
School: Monterey Middle School,
Oak Bay, British Columbia
IN A PREVIOUS issue of The Connection, we
posed these questions: Who was your favourite
teacher? And why? We’re featuring two of our
favourite teacher stories here. Best wishes to
all students and teachers in this coming school
Above left: Joani Herron is fourth from the
right in the back row. Lyn Hancock is standing
to the far left. The gibbon is in the second row.
And Herron and Hancock on Canada Day 2017.
Right: Miss Dag.