Media Advisory - RESILIENT PEOPLE website proves life's challenges can be opportunities to inspire others
RESILIENT PEOPLE website proves that life’s challenges can be opportunities to inspire others
TORONTO, ON., October 22, 2019 -- Toronto resident Janet Fanaki created the website RESILIENT PEOPLE, out of her own story of resilience.
The site profiles EXTRAordinary people worldwide who are admired for overcoming a major challenge, bouncing back and creating something to help others be resilient too.
“I launched the website after my husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer,” says the former PR specialist. “This time of our lives was incredibly challenging for him, me and our entire family.”
Launching RESILIENT PEOPLE was a cathartic process for Janet as she was searching for others who also bounced back from major challenges. Started just over a year ago, the site has become a sense of community and inspiration for people everywhere.
“Every person I profile has taken a problem and made an opportunity to help themselves and others. This is why they are RESILIENT PEOPLE.”
I would appreciate the opportunity to chat with you about:
I can be reached at (416) 271-7887, firstname.lastname@example.org and www.resilientpeople.ca
By Jane Kristoffy, Founder of Right Track Educational Services
As the school year unfolds, is the stress level rising at your house? Does your teen feel a ton of pressure, or are they managing their growing workload with ease as they work towards academic goals?
We are now weeks into another school year and getting used to our routines. Students have a “groove” in their courses, and grasp their teachers’ expectations. Many students have their eye on specific, measurable goals for academic progress (and other activities), and they’re working hard towards them.
Now is the time students begin to see whether or not their goals are within reach. Their progress so far shows whether or not they’re on track.
Even though there are many months left in the school year, some kids may feel overwhelmed, fearing failure. They may panic if they have a minor setback at this time.
Recently I’ve had a few phone calls from parents about their stressed-out teenagers. One Mom asked, “Do students ever get totally stuck, this early, in Grade 11?”
The answer is YES, all the time! (The same goes for students in grades 9, 10, and 12, but grade 11 can be particularly overwhelming since students know their marks can impact post-secondary admissions.)
Many students are tired and stressed at mid-term. Their teachers may not know them yet, or “get” them. A test result could be far from their hopes. Maybe they’re riding the bench on the basketball team, instead of leading the starting line; or for those students eager to head-up clubs, perhaps they haven’t filled the role they’d imagined.
As I wrote about in a previous article in RESILIENT PEOPLE, I urge parents to use moments of teen stress and insecurity to help them build their resilience and perseverance muscles. Struggles and setbacks are part of life, and these are perfect times to encourage kids to push through them. These situations will make our kids stronger.
I challenge parents to not only help kids work through specific difficult situations, but also to create an environment in which their children are set-up to build resilience every day.
Here are some key ways to set the stage for building resilience throughout the school year:
1. Make physical health a priority. The right amount of sleep and exercise, as well as proper nutrition, makes a huge impact on one’s ability to persevere during a setback. Imagine the energy needed to study for a test, or run a cross-country race. We need to be physically healthy to do these things well.
2. Build a circle of trust. An adult “outside” the immediate family can provide support to your child/teen. Acknowledge the encouragement that coaches, instructors, extended family members, and teachers can offer. Use their support and rely on it. Sometimes kids want to talk to someone other than Mom or Dad. It takes a village.
3. Practice positive parenting. Role model perseverance and resilience in your day-to-day life. Demonstrate grit when the going gets tough. Talk about what you learn from daily struggles and your failures. Encourage kids and teens to never fear failure and to get rid of stigmas associated with it.
4. Belong to something. Kids and teens can be themselves and take risks when removed from their school social groups. Belonging to a social community outside of school can lay the foundation for growth. If kids know they have more than one social outlet, it’s safer to risk failing or looking foolish, and this ultimately will help them build their resilience muscle.
5. Have a sense of control over one’s life. Show your kids they can make their own choices about many aspects of their lives: friends, passions, courses, direction, to name a few.
I always encourage parents to help their kids build resilience and to persevere when they hit a bump in the road, and to create an environment in which being resilient is the norm every day of the school year.
Mid-term progress reports are on the way! Contact Right Track today for information about our Study Skills Bootcamps, High School Blueprint, and other services supporting kids and teens during their academic journey! We would love to chat with you to see if we can help during school transitions and challenges.
Dawne McKay is the founder of The Crash Support Network. She started the group after she survived a horrible car crash in 2012.
Feeling isolated and alone during her recovery she could not find an online support group for survivors of motor vehicle crashes.
“I was looking for others to connect with, who understood what I was going through,” she says. “I took it upon myself to create a group for people who share the same experience as me.”
In April 2016 The Crash Support Network was born and within a few minutes of her first post, Dawne had a follower.
“Jimmy was the survivor of a truck crash,” says Dawne. “For the first time, I didn’t feel alone.”
The day of Dawne’s crash started out as a normal drive to work. She was taking a left turn at an intersection when the car behind her rear-ended her, pushing her car into the path of a transport truck.
“I vaguely remember it,” she says. “I remember parts of the first impact and nothing of the second hit but recall someone holding my hand while we waited for the ambulance to arrive.”
She stayed in a downtown Toronto trauma centre for 3 days suffering from multiple injuries.
“It was a life changing experience where I felt very vulnerable from the moment the crash happened to the hospital stay and the long road to recovery.”
Once time had passed and her support network got back to their regular lives, she felt very alone in dealing with the aftermath including discussions with insurance agencies, lawyers, and medical professionals as well as reeling from her experience.
Dealing with the mental, physical and financial aspects of a crash was a lot and something she didn’t want anyone else to experience on their own.
From the moment she launched The Crash Support Network group, Dawne’s days of feeling alone were over.
When Jimmy wrote her, it was to say that he had been in a terrible truck crash and was worried about his wife and children. Completely understanding him, Dawne replied to say, “I went through a horrific car crash too - I’m here for you.”
Group members will often say they wished they had known about such a support group sooner.
Similar to the online Down Syndrome community that Tara McCallan discussed on The Happy Soul Project for RESILIENT PEOPLE. "I gathered an army to support us. We've been uplifted by people worldwide."
The Crash Support Network Facebook group is private allowing members to have open conversations with one another, creating a space for empathy, support, appreciation and respect.
For Dawne, she gets teary thinking about what the group means to her.
“I remember sitting on my couch feeling all alone in the struggles I was facing. When I created the group my goal was to help just one person and now I’m helping over 650 people.”
Along with the Facebook group, Dawne has designed a website which covers a multitude of topics including a personal blog on her journey to recovery, insurance and legal advice, as well as articles written by survivors. It’s a first-stop destination for crash survivors.
Her resilience comes from desperately needing to find a sense of purpose, seeing the crash for what it was and wanting to help other survivors.
“I have always believed in myself and understood that setbacks are temporary. I decided to focus my energy on creating awareness for survivors of motor vehicle crashes who may be struggling alone, and sharing my personal experience as a crash survivor is rewarding.”
For more information on The Crash Support Network, visit www.crashsupportnetwork.com, the private Facebook group, Twitter and the public Facebook page.
“The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving of ways.”
Since 1999, Carpe Diem Treatment Foster Homes has provided loving foster care to emotionally distressed children in the Greater Toronto Area.
The agency was founded by a retired school teacher named Jim Lewis. The current Executive Director is Tyler Green who has been with Carpe Diem for a number of years serving different roles.
“Jim saw a need in creating an agency that would help kids who were falling through the cracks,” says Tyler Green. “They don’t have a huge support system, their biological family isn’t able to give them support and a foster home can teach them to be functioning members of society.”
Carpe Diem works closely with Children’s Services offices in Ontario as well as Children’s Aid. From birth to 18 years of age they place over 100 children in 70 foster care homes.
The children receiving assistance from Carpe Diem have faced abuse, neglect, and abandonment while also dealing with issues such as attention deficit disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, developmental delays, autism, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Many have grown up in the foster system.
Foster care aims to put them on the right path to future success. To achieve this, Tyler says, “There are two main things we look for in a foster parent: tolerance and compassion.”
When foster parents provide the children with daily routines, nurturing talents, love and good friendships, these children grow up with the necessary life skills and believe that they matter.
The goal is to build their resilience to prepare them for life.
The biggest challenge for Carpe Diem is in finding the right match between families and children. Following a preliminary meeting and background check, a rigorous evaluation is done which includes a visit to the potential foster home to examine it for safety and overall appearance.
Once the family and home is approved, the child is moved in a sensitive manner while being evaluated by the agency afterwards to ensure a smooth transition.
The child would be taught all aspects of life skills from making toast to taking the G1 driver's test.
“Foster parenting gives these kids a template of what other families look like,” says Tyler. “They come from chaotic situations, loving mom or dad, but not being able to live with them.”
One example is Danny who came to Carpe Diem in 1999 after being bounced from different foster homes.
He was a skinny child with glasses who got into a lot of trouble at school and moved back and forth from his biological home.
Jim Lewis was immediately drawn to him. Thanks to their strong relationship, Danny is now in his 30s, employed, has a supportive social network and is still closely connected with the agency.
There are times however when the foster home is not a good match for the child and they need to be moved from it. It’s at these times when their resilience is really tested.
“If a child has to move, we explain to them that stuff happens,” says Tyler. “We ask them what they want to do next, where they want to go from here - empowering them by putting the decision making into their hands.”
As Tyler says, “They need to realize that bumps come, but as long as they keep getting up everyday afterwards and moving forward, they can work through it.”
For more information on Carpe Diem Treatment Foster Homes and to inquire about becoming a foster parent, visit www.carpediem.ca, on Facebook and Twitter.
Photos from top to bottom: a bell which greets visitors to the main offices of Carpe Diem Treatment Foster Homes in Brampton, Ontario; Tyler Green, Executive Director; Danny MacDonald, a former foster child and friend to Carpe Diem; a hand-stitched sign celebrating the agency's anniversary (Janet Fanaki)
Hi everybody and welcome to RESILIENT PEOPLE. Today I’m joined by Dana Kyminas from Peabody, Massachusetts.
Dana reached out to me to share the story of her husband George who passed away of congenital heart failure, a condition he had since birth.
George was given a couple of years to live, but defied the odds and continued to defy them until he passed at only 27 years of age.
Dana shared their story, his resilience in living with a heart defect and how she continues to honour his legacy.
RESILIENT PEOPLE: How did you and George meet?
DANA KYMINAS: I was a freshman and George was a junior in high school. I didn’t want to take gym and he couldn’t so we met in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp program.
George made you smile no matter how bad your day was. You’d never know that he had a heart condition. When he told me about it I didn’t quite understand it. When he was 12 he had 2 valves replaced along with a pacemaker put in. They gave him a 20% chance of survival.
In high school his pacemaker was replaced and he always seemed to be fine. He developed endocarditis which eats away at your valves, as well as pulmonary hypertension where he couldn’t walk long distances but his doctors kept track of his condition to make sure he was okay.
We got married ten years later and I joked that we should have put ‘its about time’ on the invitation. About a year later we decided to try to have a family. We were told by doctors to go ahead because they didn’t feel anything major would happen within the next 5 years.
In November 2013, we found out we were pregnant and the following January his health condition declined rapidly. Till February he was in the hospital for a month. Tests were done to assess the chances of getting a heart transplant but because of all of the scar tissue from previous surgeries he was not put on a list. Instead he went on hospice care.
On April 17, 2014 George peacefully passed away.
Tell me about the award in his honor.
The award is given to fifth graders who write an essay on strength and perseverance. They either need to know someone or have gone through something themselves that is bad and kept a positive attitude. For example, one child wrote about being in foster care and meeting their adoptive family. Or a boy wrote about his twin brother who had a heart condition and how he made it through.
You think that you’re the only one going through a hard time but you’re not alone. Sometimes the happiest people you meet are the ones going through the hardest times.
I’ve always loved the saying, “Life is 10% what’s given to you and 90% what you do with it.” I lost my husband when I was 27 weeks pregnant and my daughter arrived a month early, spending time in special care nursery. Now she’s healthy and we’re doing okay. You can be in any situation and come out of it.
How was the award established?
A friend of his mother’s set it up. She wanted to do something to honour him so we had a plaque designed with a photo of George as a kid and also as an adult. The winner gets their name engraved on it and the top 3 winners get a gift card to the local book store.
The essay is optional because not every kid wants to write it. These are 10 and 11 year olds. Many children will read their essay aloud but many times they want us to read it. It’s hard for us because we need that box of tissues.
Kids will go up to the winner afterwards and say that they went through that same thing too. It’s nice to show them that they’re not the only one having a hard day. It might be about a dog passing away or a brother’s heart surgeries but its understanding what strength and perseverance means.
What does that award do for you?
It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you look like on the outside, everyone can have a hard day or life. It could be the happiest person but you’d never know it. Like George, people were shocked that he even had a condition. It shows that you never know what someone’s going through.
Where does your strength come from?
Most of my strength was trying to make it for my daughter. I did it for her and not me. The hospital sent bereavement information to me and recommended a place close to me for grief counselling. They had a young widow’s meeting group and I got to meet people with shared experiences. I met 3 ladies who I still talk to and see to this day. It’s nice knowing someone who has gone through the same thing.
One woman is the same age as me and her husband died in a freak accident. My daughter is now 5 and said, “I want you to have another baby.” I can ask my friend what she’s told her daughter in that same situation. It’s great to connect with her.
You need those blocks beneath you for stability. Community.
Yes. When George passed away I worked in a hospital’s OR where he had also once worked. They knew him and were almost like family. If they saw me crying they’d give me a hug and understand.
How is life for you and Leila today?
I went back to school and got my associates in accounting. We’re doing good. Emotionally I have my days. I have her 24/7 and don’t have someone to pass her to so that can be a little hard. I’m learning and she’s learning.
Do you have a message for others?
Try and stay happy. If someone’s having a bad day, give them a chance. You never know what the reason is. Give one little smile and you’ve made someone’s day.
Thank you, Dana.
I am not a fan of chaos. I'm also not someone who leaves things to chance. It actually makes me uneasy to even think of doing it.
My 84 year-old father lives an hour's drive away from me. For the last couple of years I've watched his health and mobility worsen.
He lives by himself but could still get out to do errands and have coffee with friends at Tim Hortons. His medical needs were serviced by weekly nursing care for medications and bandaging leg wounds. I didn't see this as a long-term solution, but he was content with the arrangement.
Over the last year I would ask him once in a while if he'd thought of moving to an apartment or retirement/nursing home. To a place where he'd be around more people, social programs, nursing care would be available more readily and assisted living could be an option if his life needed to turn in that direction.
"I'm not interested in going to (insert the name of any local residence here)."
So my come-back would always be, "Dad, I don't want to deal with things when there's a crisis so please figure out your plan."
Guess what? Along came a crisis and there was no plan.
After a number of recent falls and skipped critical medications, he landed himself in an out-of-town hospital indefinitely.
Of course I don't want to say, "I told you so" but if steps were taken way back when to move to a home, this scenario could have been avoided - but here we are.
To make matters worse, his legal papers did not list my brother or me so organizing his medical affairs, bill payments and even forwarding his mail is impossible till our names are listed as such.
For all of the conversations that I've had with my father, I could tell you about the people he worked with at the CBC, his woodworking and favourite eating spots in town. Albeit talking with your adult children about moving out of your house when you're old is not fun, but it's a talk that needs to happen.
My dad's lawyer said the following, "The best is to do it in more controlled and relaxed way." I wish this was the case.
So I'm now dispelling this advice to everyone I know with older parents:
I realize it's a difficult subject to broach but if you don't do it while they're with it, having the conversation when things go sideways will be next to impossible. And getting the legal papers changed may be irreversible.
Doing these things now will prove to be a smart move for both of you. And something that will allow everyone to enjoy the years.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Shaun O’Gorman of Brisbane, Australia. He is an author, motivational speaker, creator of The Strong Life Project, father and former police officer in Queensland, Australia.
Being a police officer was a difficult profession. Shaun came to it from having a father and uncle in the force so he idolized them and what they did for a living.
But in “the job” Shaun saw the worst of life and it took its toll on him. He struggled with thoughts of suicide and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and eventually left the force.
He speaks to police academies, business leaders, first responders and athletes about his struggles and now his goal is to help them with their hardships.
We spoke about "the job", PTSD, mental illness and injury, embracing vulnerability and maintaining resilience.
TELL ME ABOUT GROWING UP IN A POLICE FAMILY
My dad was with the force for 42 years and he even ran the police union. He was a cop in the 70s and 80s and the second most decorated cop in Australia. I worshiped him and wanted to do something that significantly helped people.
The impact of the job had him diagnosed with PTSD. The impact is real on cops and not a lot of people talk about it.
My goal was to join the force, be on the canine unit and I thought that my life would be fulfilled.
Canine officers go to the most dangerous scenes. I’d be doing 6-8 violent jobs in one shift, chasing through the brush, running after people quickly...it’s a very dangerous and lonely job.
WHAT PREPARES YOU FOR THAT TYPE OF WORK?
The answer is nothing. Unless you’re doing the work to prepare yourself for it, like through things like proper sleep, exercise, nutrition, meditation, then the effects of the job will really impact your life.
My dad had a great mask and pretended like things didn’t affect him. The job was where he was the most comfortable, he got a lot of attention and people loved him. But it’s when you’re in your normal life that life can be overwhelming.
I was too scared to ask for help. My goal is to have the conversations that help people.
TOUCH ON WHEN THINGS WERE AT THEIR WORST FOR YOU
I was on canine for 9 years and then went to covert surveillance. I went there because it’s a slower pace, not the constant action. I was getting to the point where I was getting more affected by the job, like engaging in violence if it was available.
You need to identify when something is dramatically impacting us. I call it a mental injury not mental illness. In my case, I was working harder and drank more, engaging in violence.
I lay in bed with a glock pistol pointed in my mouth and stood on a ledge outside of building on the Gold Coast. The suicide rate is double the road toll rate in Australia. This means that double the amount of people killed in road accidents die by their own hand.
Men and women are terrified to be vulnerable and speak up. It’s not a gender specific problem it’s a societal problem. The biggest impact came for me by thinking that if I raised my hand, people would judge me. All of my darkest secrets are now out in the world, I’m an open book. Now that I’ve put my secrets out I don’t care. There’s a benefit and freedom in not having secrets to hide.
WHEN YOU WERE COMING TO TERMS WITH YOUR DIFFICULTIES, HOW DID YOU COPE? WHAT WAS YOUR PATH TO RESILIENCE?
I didn’t cope, I dealt with it with alcohol and as I left the police I had a loss of identity.
In 2002 I left and 2005 my daughter was born. I did a Dale Carnegie course which opened the door for me. I spoke with psychologists and psychiatrists. It was when one psychiatrist told me that I had PTSD like a Vietnam veteran. He said, “Your 13 years on the force was like 30 years.”
I saw an opportunity to speak to first responders as someone who was on the force for many years. I now mentor people all around the world, speak to police and military on mental health impact, how to look after people, look after themselves, why they need to care for themselves and leadership. My resilience comes from helping other people.
It’s important for people to know that anything that happens in your life that’s impactful and difficult, you can recover from. If you’re still breathing there’s an opportunity to recover. Resilience is a skill which comes from practicing resilient behaviour and from not giving in.
TELL ME ABOUT THE STRONG LIFE PROJECT
The message is living with Strength, Tenacity, Resilience, Optimism, Nurture and Generosity. It’s about being the best person first and then being the best man, father, husband, etc. If we live with these, it’s a pretty good plan for life.
The Strong Life Project is podcasts, books, leadership mentoring, critical stress training, personal coaching, resilience training, and mentoring sessions. People can find me on Instagram, Linkedin and Youtube.
The big thing for me is to not sit back and wait for things to change. Get off your ass to change things because there is no one else coming to do it. It is totally up to you. We are the masters of our own destiny. If your life is shit that’s because you’ve chosen to stay where you are.
To reach Shaun O'Gorman and learn more about his story go to The Strong Life Project.
Watching Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip perform their final concert from the Revue Cinema in Toronto
Today marks three years since The Tragically Hip performed their final concert. An event that millions of people around the world would watch - from cottage docks, backyard patios and, for the lucky ones, in person in the band’s hometown of Kingston, Ontario.
My friends and I went to a Toronto movie theatre to see it on the big screen. Whether or not you were a Hip fan, it was the Canadian thing to do.
The Tragically Hip were one of the country’s most beloved bands. Although I couldn’t count myself as one of their lifelong fans I did get caught up in the farewell fandemonium.
Part of my reason for wanting to watch the show was to see the band’s lead singer Gord Downie perform that night. Only a few months earlier it was announced that he had stage 4 brain cancer, specifically called glioblastoma (GBM).
A terminal cancer with no cure, I was curious to watch how he would do under the pressure of performing to the country.
Back in May I was driving in my car listening to the breaking news of Downie’s brain cancer diagnosis. His oncologist, Dr. James Perry at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, described “the incurable disease” and what lay ahead for his patient as some of us were learning about glioblastoma for the first time.
The most common and aggressive cancerous primary brain tumour, it affects 2 to 3 per 100,000 adults every year and accounts for 52% of all primary brain tumours. (American Association of Neurological Surgeons)
A day after the announcement the band would announce a cross-country farewell tour.
Canada went crazy. The shows would sell out in every city, while the final one would take place on August 20.
The day of the final show, my husband wasn’t feeling himself and chose to stay home instead of joining us at the theatre. A summer marred by exhaustion and personality changes I chalked these traits up to him overworking himself.
Little did we know that while Gord Downie was performing the show of his life, my husband would also learn that had the same disease.
Looking back it would be art imitating life for us.
Two weeks later we were preparing for a trip to see the US Open in New York City. It would be the first time attending the celebrity-filled tennis event and we were very excited about it.
Realizing that his symptoms were still prevalent, my husband decided to press for in-depth medical testing.
A CT followed by MRI scan would confirm that his behaviour was being caused by a cancerous tumour, growing in the healthy tissue of his brain.
A full craniotomy would be performed only 2 weeks later with weeks of rest, and then months of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
Our children were in Grades 9 and 12 at the time. Important years for both with the start of high school and university applications in the midst.
As we focussed on his treatment and rest, I gave our children one job. To focus their best on school and maintaining good scores because we couldn’t manage it if that failed.
As we continued on this new cancer treatment path, I followed any of Gord Downie’s public appearances and interviews.
Despite a television interview with CBC where he divulged that he could no longer drive and experienced seizures, he had a year celebrated with the release of a new album, performed 3 live shows for his solo work and published a book.
He made what would become his final year really count.
That year made me think that he could make all of the doctors wrong and he would beat brain cancer.
Then on October 17, 2017 it was announced that he passed away.
Again, I was in the car when the news broke. Radio stations played The Hip’s music throughout the day. Social media filled with posts honouring Downie for his courage and thanking him for the music and inspiration.
My husband was already back at work at this point in time. He called me while I was driving and said, “Did you hear the news?” “Yes”, I said with tears in my eyes.
I didn’t know Gord Downie but felt that he was our beacon of light on these stormy waters. Now that light was permanently out.
The average life expectancy with glioblastoma is 14 months. My husband has surpassed this number thanks to the amazing efforts of Dr. Perry and this team at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Dr. Sunit Das at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
It’s been two years since Downie’s death.
Since then The Gord Downie Fund has raised over $2.2 million dollars for brain cancer care at Sunnybrook.
According to Danielle Stonehouse with the hospital’s Advancement office, “Donations supporting this fund have gone towards ‘The Gord Downie Fellowship in Brain Oncology’ and the construction of the G. Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre, a new clinical and research space for neurologists who care for patients with brain cancer.”
Recently, the Downie family decided to direct funds and future donations to support Dr. Arjun Sahgal’s work in Image Guided Research for glioblastoma.
It’s thanks to developments in research and patient care that our family is able to benefit from the personalized treatments to treat glioblastoma.
The future is uncertain where this disease will lead us, but I take a page out of Gord Downie’s songbook using courage to live our lives to the fullest, regardless of what may hold us back.
RESILIENT PEOPLE Contributor Marshalee Facey with some of her students at Transparent Mathematics Center, Montego Bay, Jamaica
My name is Marshalee Facey and I am a teacher who loves to teach.
I am originally from the rural parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica where I lived with my mother Janice Edwards. She was a single parent and made me the woman I am today - ambitious, hardworking and always committed to your dream.
I completed schooling at Bethlehem Teachers College in Malvern, Jamaica. It was difficult securing a permanent job in this rural area, so I decided to move to Montego Bay.
After struggling for months I finally found employment as a secretary and part-time math teacher at a private school. I had my own passion for teaching and business and was determined to eventually start my own school.
When I left the private educational institute, I took a 6-month contract job at the National Water Commission (NWC) where I worked as a field inspection officer. From this job I committed to go after my goal and start my own school.
It was very difficult to get my business off the ground but I saved most of my salary from NWC, bought some second-hand school chairs and desks, advertised in the local newspaper and gave out flyers to promote my school.
Discouragement came from a few friends and family members but self-determination was my main motivator. My mother and others helped encourage me along the way.
In 2014 I opened the Transparent Mathematics Center in Montego Bay with only 9 students. They were all preparing for the national Caribbean examination, which is officially called the Caribbean Secondary Examination certificate (CSEC) examination.
Over time our population increased to 114 students.
Sadly in 2018 the school was forced to close due to high costs and delinquent tuition payments.
This was very disheartening but I reflect on the positives - the amazing students that I have met and their accomplishments. I now teach in a government primary school.
After teaching all these years I realized that students continue to struggle in developing their mathematical skills nationally. One of the ways to alleviate this crisis is to have trained and highly proficient teachers in the area of mathematics and provide suitable educational materials.
I just completed writing an educational mathematics book to help students develop their critical thinking skills.
Despite all of my obstacles what makes me most proud are the amazing students I have met and how I helped them to accomplish their goals.
I’ll end with my two of my favourite mantras:
“Nothing try, nothing done” and “He who makes you angry control you”.
Thank you for reading.
For more information on Marshalee Facey, please contact email@example.com or (876) 836-4712.
Isobel Fanaki at Toronto's Pearson International Airport
My baby, my first born, the one who has trained me in parenting. She's left on her first solo flight.
Albeit on a school credit trip, with many others studying the same marine biology course, but she is not travelling with us.
As many times as I have encouraged her to take advantage of these opportunities, I couldn't deny the mixed feelings I had while leaving her at the airport.
I reflected on the story that Alana Salsberg contributed to RESILIENT PEOPLE on motherhood. As she put it, "This is what I wanted: happy, excited, confident, resilient kids who have become happy, excited, confident, resilient young adults."
I know that she'll be okay because she's already been tested in ways that I did not plan nor would have wanted her to be.
Back in 2016 her dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive brain cancer.
Isobel was entering her final year of high school. A year that would be filled in the first few months alone with campus tours, heavy assignments and exams, applications and the nervous anticipation of rejections and acceptances.
Not to mention the normal highs and lows of being 17 years old.
At the time our son was starting Grade 9 and this brought its own set of excitement and nerves for all of us.
I don't even remember when or how I told our children about my husband's diagnosis.
Some things I clearly remember like breaking down in tears over the phone in the middle of a shopping mall as he told me that the initial scan results weren't good. And dropping them off at home so I could pack an overnight bag for him for the hospital, not knowing what lay ahead.
I remember calling him from the car to say I was on my way, hearing him say that the cancer was terminal, and the sound of our convulsing sobs.
And after meeting with the neurosurgeon, listening to the grim statistics, I remember holding my husband tight and telling him "now that we know what we've got in front of us, we'll get the best team around us and deal with it."
But I don't remember telling the kids.
What I do remember is being in the car with them and talking about his condition. What stands out the most for me from that conversation was saying, "The best thing the two of you can do is to stay focussed in school and keep doing your best."
Maybe I felt that they needed a purpose in this crazy experience - something to do to help us.
They both lived up to their end of the bargain. Isobel rocked Grade 12 and received acceptances from several top-ranked universities. Now she's entering her third year and beginning to experience the world on her own.
I wouldn't begin to take any amount of credit for what she or her brother have achieved in the face of watching their father battle through this horrible disease. I give thanks to their schools, friends, our family and their own determination for the support that has sustained us all.
From seeing him come home with dozens of staples in the side of his scalp after a full craniotomy, to endless days of exhaustion and the look of worry across his face.
He has never given up the pride that he feels in both of his kids and feeling grateful to still be here witnessing it all.
He has surpassed the grim numbers and over these last three years we have had some of the most memorable family holidays, work experiences and celebrations.
And now she is continuing her path in life as a strong and resilient young woman. Armed with the idea that anything in life can happen but it's how you deal with it that counts.