I think you’re lucky if every now and again you can have one of those days that just boosts your faith in it all. And I had one of those kind of days today – a day where I was asked to come and inspire and be a role model and I hope I did that but also where the experience gave me back as much as I gave to it. Today was the very first day that I took annual leave for Twelfth Planet Press work. It felt very much like a milestone.
I was asked to come and speak at a girls’ school about TPP and about what I’ve been doing and about gender issues in publishing. I am not the great enjoyer of public speaking so I was kind of dreading it. But I took the speech I gave the other night, a powerpoint presentation and a TPP intern who also happens to be a school teacher and I headed out in the wild and wooly weather to what has to be one of the most beautiful schools in Perth.
I had terrible school envy. In fact, I kinda blamed my parents for everything that didn’t happen to me as I walked round the campus on account of them not sending me to that school (it was a Catholic school, that would never have happened but STILL! WOE!) I told afterwards that I could have done so much more with my life if I’d gone to that school and she rolled her eyes at me and said she thought I did alright. (Totally keeping her! Being able to roll your eyes at the boss is important)
Anyway. What a lovely day! I had deliberately chosen a timeslot that had the smallest group allocated to it but you know teachers! They managed to get Year 10s and 12s into what was just going to be a couple of Year 11s. And I don’t think I bored them too much. I thought they’d fall asleep or eat me alive or not ask me any questions at the end. None of that happened. I got asked lots of interesting questions and they laughed at my jokes. I met lots of young, smart and confident young women and smart and engaged teachers. And T was awesome – you know, if my superpower is finding the great people in life, it’s a pretty darn good (and useful) superpower. She wasn’t at all phased by the school or the schoolkids or any of it.
After the talk, which went ok, I played them a bit of Galactic Suburbia as well (schools these days have IT and internet and … wow, I feel SO deprived), the English department put on recess for me. They had catering and the most stunning staff room I could ever have dreamed about – with coffee machines and club sandwiches and The Best Teachers. We had a lovely time chatting about things.
But seriously, I think one of the best things that’s happened for me this year is starting to connect with school libraries and teachers. I am so inspired and heartened by how awesome they are and so hungry to find new and great material to teach and support and get into their students’ hands. How lucky kids are to be taught by such enthusiastic and creative and interested people. How lucky we are to have such great people teaching the future of our nation. There were so many smiles and so much encouragement, it reminded me why I am here today – I’m an engineer because my school teachers cared enough to find me a stream of engineering that would interest me and talk me into at least trying it out. I’m a publisher because I have always been encouraged by those around me to read and find and explore and immerse. I am so very lucky to have the honour of interacting with the people I find in life.
I had one of those days that made my heart soar and inspired me again by what is possible, that potential can be made real.
I had a good day