Darlene Foster's Blog

Back to the Future

Posted on: January 25, 2019

On my recent trip back to my home province of Alberta, I was fortunate to visit two schools where I did presentations, readings, and workshops. I may have mentioned before that doing school presentations is my favourite part of being a writer. These two visits were very special.

I was invited by a school in Airdrie, Alberta to visit as the Grade 4 classes are currently reading Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. I did four presentations to the grade four classes at Herons Crossing School the day after I landed in Calgary. The students were delightful and devoted Amanda Travels fans. Some had read all the books. They said they enjoyed the use of cliffhangers in the stories. I love that kind of feedback. They were all well behaved and asked very good questions.

Students eagerly listening while I read from Amanda in Alberta.

A few days later I visited Irvine School, just outside Medicine Hat, where I did a presentation in the library to about 70 grade 3 and 4 students. After the recess, I did a workshop with one of the Grade 4 classes.

This was a double special visit as I went to Irvine School myself many years ago and it is now the school my great-granddaughter attends. It is not the same building I attended as the original school burnt down in 1989 and has been replaced by a modern building. But it was a memorable visit for me. I brought along my old high school sweater and yearbook to show the children that I had once attended that very school.

Presentation in the library

Considering it was just a couple of days before the Christmas break, the students were very attentive and asked great questions. After sitting on the floor for quite some time, the teacher had them get up and do a few exercises.

After the presentation, many came up to ask more questions.

Later, I facilitated a workshop on using all the senses in writing. Using a photograph as a prompt, we brainstormed words describing the five senses. Everyone participated. Later they were given ten minutes to hand write something based on a picture, using as many of the senses as possible. Some shared their writing. I was amazed at how eager they were to do the assignment and how they produced such incredible work in a short time. A great example of how children still love to read and write.

Facilitating a workshop with eager participants is so much fun.

My oldest grandson was my driver, helper, and photographer. He was a huge help.

My grandson and his niece (my great-granddaughter)

I was so impressed with the school, the teachers and the staff. There was such a positive vibe in the place. Wonderful quotes decorated the hallway walls.

And look what I found on a door in the girl’s washroom!

Talk about positive reinforcement!

I went back to my old school and found that the future is in good hands. 

73 Responses to "Back to the Future"

I also love to do author visits at schools. How wonderful to have fewer students in the classrooms. That makes such a big difference!

It is so much fun. The decent size classrooms are so much easier to manage and give the kids individual attention.

Wow, Darlene, this is such wonderful thing you’re doing, inspiring children to read. And it all looks like so much fun. Beautiful school, lovely kids. Very impressive!

It is a lot of fun. So many people say that kids don’t read anymore but that is not true. They love to read just like we did. They also love to write which is great. It won’t be long and they will be reading adult books.

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your school visits!

Thanks. I’m pleased you enjoyed reading about them.

Wonderful Darlene! Always interested in what you are up to, and how special to be presenting your book in the school you once attended!

I know! Who would have thought all those years ago, that I would one day return and read my books to the students? I had to pinch myself.

I’m impressed with your ability to communicate with the kids. Thank you for sharing this story.

Thanks, Chuck. I do tend to be able to relate to kids well. Perhaps that is why I am able to write for them.

Great post, Darlene, and how wonderful to have gone back to your old school. Love the perfect girls aren’t real message on the door!

That message is so great! It was almost surreal to be back at my old school location.

I am proud of you — it must feel sooo good to get through to children. And I love the painted school walls. I still have faith in today’s school system, and you are a wonderful inspiration to the kids.

Thanks, Claudia. That is so sweet of you. The painted walls were amazing as were the kids!

I once went ti my grandsons school and they had wall scenes out of mosaic tiles! Go kids and teachers!

What a wonderful series of events. So amazingly exciting. I’m beyond happy for you, Darlene.

It certainly was one of the highlights of the trip. So amazing how it all worked out too. Thanks!

I can imagine an audience of children who read is the most delightful audience EVER!

Your photos are clever too: the onew with the tree and the “girl” quotes on the locker stood out for me.

Children are the best! I just love sharing my books and writing experiences with them. Glad you enjoyed the photos. I also found pictures of two of my brothers and their graduating classes on the walls!

That should be “ones” – sorry for the fat finger!

No problem, I knew what you meant. Happens to me all the time.

How special. I love the interaction with different groups who are interested in my story. To have this possibility in the schools is extra exciting.

I think young people in schools, especially high school students, would love to hear about your experiences of living in another country and how you took those experiences and created a book about them. It would be worth contacting a few. xo

I used to love doing school visits in England too when we ran our education charity in Kathmandu. Especially rewarding was the relationship we built with my old junior school I attended in the 1950s which eventually led to quarterly visits, Nepal Studies being added to their curriculum, and fundraising activities for the whole village led by the school. But nothing was more rewarding than very small children approaching us in my original home village and asking us questions about Nepal, taking hold of my hand as they got my wife to speak or write in Nepali for them, giggling as she wrote their names in weird looking Nepali script on their exercise books. Fun, but very rewarding too!

You and your dear wife have done some amazing work and to share that with children back home must have been very rewarding. Children are delighted to learn about other cultures I have noticed. They make amazing audiences too, often more attentive than adults!

Thank you Darlene, your kind words mean a lot. You are right, children are like sponges in this regard and we remember in great detail the first time our own children visited Nepal at the age of 6 and 8, they became totally absorbed in experiencing the culture, including foods, religion, festivals but being acutely aware of the poverty.

What a wonderful gift you gave your children.

Darlene, the future is indeed safe in the hands of your old school! How wonderful to see the positive images around the school and more importantly their love of learning, reading, writing, sharing! I can just imagine their joy in meeting a writer and then that you actually attended the school. Great visits to the schools and congratulations on being the book for the year – an amazing feat!

They were quite excited and my great-granddaughter was tickled that I could be there. I was very pleased that Herons Crossing school chose my book to read and discuss in class. That did make my day!

You are truly blessed, Darlene, having all those amazing, supportive and loving people around you and how special it must have been for you to meet and work with the new generation at your old school. I am delighted for you. 👍💖

I do feel blessed in so many ways. Being at my old school with my great-granddaughter and her fellow students was a dream come true and an experience I will always treasure.

This warms my heart through and through Darlene. I love that the Airdrie class was reading Amanda in Alberta! Inspiring young readers and writers must be so rewarding. Bravo to you and to Amanda!

Amanda and I say, thank you! I was delighted to learn that they had chosen Amanda in Alberta for class reading. And even more delighted to learn they were enjoying it. They asked me to read the next part they were at. I read 2 pages and closed the book. They shouted, please don’t stop, we have to know what happens next!! So I read 2 more pages. It is very rewarding. xo

That is fabulous. Talk about positive feedback!

You can tell that you are in your element among students — you look like you are enjoying every moment. What a great idea to give them a writing prompt like a picture and let them create something of their own.

I really do enjoy doing these school presentations. My goal as a child was to be a school teacher but it didn’t work out. This is my way of making up for it. I guess things do work out in the end!

How wonderful to re-visit your old school and know that the pupils are reading your book!

It is the most wonderful feeling!!

So awesome! Irvine school is such a great school and I know they were happy to have you there!

It was great to see that it is still a wonderful school. I was happy to be there!

[…] We don’t really have anything like this in the UK (or not when I was at school) I would love to see this happening though via Back to the Future […]

It was so awesome of you to spend your morning with us in Irvine. Devin was so proud of you, and rightly so. Your kind, caring, and inspiring nature is evident in your love of writing.

Thanks, Dawn for making this happen. I left feeling so uplifted and energized. Not just because it was dream come true for me, but because in a world full of negativity, I felt so positive about the future. xo

How wonderful, Darlene! I loved reading about your visit to your old school, and all the reading and work you did with the children. Your old yearbook and sweater are priceless!! Love the photos of the kids! 😍

It was a truly wonderful experience on so many levels. Cool that I still had my sweater and yearbook. The kids were amazing in both schools.

I’m so glad! 🙂

And the quotes on the walls, especially the tree, are fantastic!

I knew you would like those quotes!

You know me well 🙂. The girls bathroom quote is fabulous, too!

Two wonderful and lasting experiences, Darlene. How lovely for you.

Thanks, Robbie. I won’t forget these visits.

Looks like it was a fabulous day, Darlene. Congrats!!

An incredible experience. Thanks, Debra!

These school visits were certainly a success. I love doing school visits too. I was a primary school teacher for 36 years so it’s especially nice to go back to the classroom but not be the person in charge 🙂 Great post and pictures, Darlene. I was interested in the place names of Airdrie and Irvine as they are both towns here in Scotland too.

So cool that you picked up on that. Irvine was named after Colonel Irvine, a prominent member of the Northwest Mounted Police (now RCMP) who brought law and order to the Canadian prairies. He was born in Canada but no doubt had Scottish heritage. Airdrie was first established in 1889, named for Airdrie, Scotland.

This looks like such fun! Love the perfect girls quote. I see why interacting with the kids is one of your favorite parts of writing.

It was a lot of fun. Kids are great!!

That must be so rewarding for you – and so exciting for the pupils!! I must admit, I was thinking as I read your words and looked at the photos, what a lovely, well-equipped, school it seemed. But the notes about the tree and the little sign in the girls’ loo seem inspired.

It is a lovely school, clean, organized, well equipped and those inspirational quotes painted on the walls were just perfect. Thanks, it was a most rewarding experience for me.

Congrats, Darlene, and thanks for sharing your wonderful school visits! I love the advice from a tree, and the positive messages for girls. #seniorsalon

I was so impressed with the positive message for young girls. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

Just reading this blog warmed my heart. What a great experience for you and what a great experience for your young audiences. I love the fact you did a workshop on describing and using the senses in writing. That experience will be with every child their entire life…those are the kind of learning moments that stand out for all of us as we go through life!! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the experience for you!!

Thanks, Kirt. It was a great experience, one I will never forget and I hope the students got something out of it as well.

I know they did…trust me…I know they did!!!!

Kudos on a fantastic school visit, Darlene! ❤

This is so lovely and so nice that you went back to your old school and read there. Lovely that the children in Alberta had read your books.

Thanks so much. How wonderful to see you here on my blog. Thanks for stopping in. xo

you are welcome, it was lovely to read!

Incredible! How wonderful to get to do this! ❤

I was indeed lucky to be able to do this. Thanks, Carol Anne.

So lovely you got to visit your old school and gave a talk and presentation. The workshop sounded like such an engaging experience, and the students so eager to participate. They must be proud of the writing they did, so eager to share. The walls really do look creative. Lovely work of art and positive messages to live by each day 🙂 Though the building is now a modern one, hope the trip back to your school was a trip down memory lane ❤

Thanks, Mable. It was a trip down memory lane for me and a very special experience I so love that my great-granddaughter is now attending this school. I gave her my school sweater.

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