How you know you are home…
I graduated from the Faculty of Education at York University in 1994. I applied to the program three times before acceptance. For someone who had wanted to be a teacher my entire life, I didn’t know what to do to get noticed, stand apart and be seen. Friends of mine all seemed to be getting into the Faculty and for many, it was a, “well I don’t know what to do so I may as well” kind of thinking. For me, I knew it was my purpose.
After three attempts, I finally got into York. I graduated top of my class with a Book Prize which I never spent because it was more important for me to have evidence of the achievement than a book. I was one of 12 in a class of 400 who got an interview before graduation. Tensions were high. When we got interviews, we didn’t tell anyone. We just quietly went about our business. All the interviews were in private schools and I realized quickly, that was not my world.
It was not uncommon as jobs were scarce then but friends who graduated two years before me were pool hired and those who would enter a few years after me were the same. By today’s standards, doing 2.5 years of long term occasional teaching doesn’t sound like very long to wait but when you have wanted it your whole life it felt like an eternity. I felt like I had to step up my game. How was I to get noticed?
I came up with an idea. I went to a stationary store (one of my guilty pleasures) and bought beautiful linen paper in bright purple and turquoise with a matching purple envelope that was sealed with a string.
I thought that might work. But I needed something else. It had to not only stand out from everyone else, I needed something to remind whoever opened my envelope that I was someone who was different. They needed a constant almost nagging reminder of me and my application.
I found metallic turquoise and purple confetti in the shape of stars. I threw a handful of each in the envelope and thought that would be it. That would be the difference. The person who opened the envelope would take the paper out and on pulling the paper, the confetti would scatter everywhere.
Even after this person took the paper out and put it on the pile of thousands of other applicants, they would continue to see the confetti, which is stickier than your average confetti, on their desk. It was fool proof. I would finally be noticed.
I got a call shortly after dropping my resume off. Please remember we are talking 1994/95. There was no email. Not as we think of it today. Everything was mailed or dropped by hand and in my case, it was dropped by hand. I would trust no one by myself to ensure my resumé got where it had to be. The call was a woman asking me to resubmit my package because they had to copy it for the team reviewing them and the dark paper would not copy. I was happy they were considering me but worried that my plan had backfired. I reprinted on white paper, dropped it off and didn’t hear anything further. It would take me 2.5 years before I was permanently hired in the North York Board of Education, which would, several years later, become the Toronto District School Board.
Fast forward twenty-six years…
I am visiting one of my schools. I have, after a long effort, finally landed myself back in the Toronto District School Board as a Superintendent of Education. I go into the vice-principal’s office to take a phone call and check some emails before moving onto my next school and I get an email from a woman in Employee Services, Mary Anne Magliocchi. I had asked about the principal performance appraisal as I am new to the role and wanted to be sure I was following protocol. She writes me back, answers my questions and asks,
Welcome back to TDSB. Did you work as a teacher for North York. I am sure I remember you 😊
Thrilled to know someone, I write back eagerly…
Yes I was in NYBE! That’s so cool you remember me. Did we work together? Were you in HR then?
Moments later another email…I am starting to feel like Meg Ryan in “You’ve got mail”.
I was in Human Resources and we had two Donsky’s apply one year and I still remember that, LOL. I loved Recruitment, it was so much fun back then. Teachers were so desperate for jobs when you were hired we got blackboards, shoes and even confetti with the applications.
I write back…
OMG!!!! I sent the confetti! That is me!!!! Hahahahaha
I wanted to be noticed. There were NO JOBS when I graduated. I did 2.5 years of LTOs which by today’s standards is nothing but back then, I felt like I would never have a permanent job. I sent my resume in on turquoise and purple paper with matching confetti so I would stand out and it must have been you who reached out to me because I was asked to resubmit with white paper because you couldn’t copy with the dark paper. I totally forgot about that. So so funny. I still have the picture of the day I signed my permanent contract and Ted Walker took the picture. It was, until then, the HAPPIEST day of my entire life.
For your viewing pleasure…
and I send her this…
A picture of 20something me, signing my contract at what is now the TDSB’s head office. She even knew the woman in the picture. I had been waiting for this moment, to become a permanent teacher, since I was four years old. It was truly, one of the happiest days of my life. The Superintendent of Human Resources at the time, Ted Walker, told me that he had NEVER been asked to take a picture of someone signing their contract.
Then she writes back,
I thought that was you!!! That is so funny…I remember calling you now. Honestly your resume went black when we scanned it. I opened your envelope and the confetti went everywhere LOL. Thank you for the picture — you were with Maureen Daca. What great memories. You have put a huge smile on my face…what a great memory before retirement 😊
I wrote back and asked when she was retiring and then closed up my computer to say goodbye to the principal and head to my next school but I had to share this story. It felt like a significant moment. Truthfully I have had many lovely moments since returning to the TDSB but this one, a woman whose name I didn’t even know, remembered me, and we both went home smiling because of it. As big as this board is, these moments make if feel very small.
I went into talk to the principal, Rocco Coluccio, and asked him if he knew Mary Anne in Employee Services. Rocco looks stunned and says, “Mary Anne Magliocchi?” and I say YES! He tells me that he was just on the phone with her discussing her retirement! WHAT????
He calls her back, we laugh together, and I am reminded yet again, how incredibly grateful I am to be in this board, with these people, with a shared history and a deep love for public education.
So, just like the day when I announced on Twitter that I was rejoining the TDSB:
There really is no place like home.