Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.
This week, I am pleased to introduce Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye), author and blogger extraordinaire. I can’t remember when or how I met Debby, but I do know that very early on I read and thoroughly enjoyed her travel memoir Have Bags, Will Travel. While Debby has done far more travel than I, there was much in her book with which I could identify. I remember laughing out loud in places, surprised to find there was someone else who shared similar obsessive behaviour.
Debby is a prolific writer, mainly of memoir. I have read others of her books and never been disappointed. Her style is open, from the heart, and conversational. You could be having a chat with a best friend over coffee, sharing love, life and laughter. In fact, those are things we both have in our blog taglines. How could we not be friends?
Since our first encounter, Debby has been a constant supporter of both my blogs, always dropping by to share some words of wisdom or encouragement — a true champion.
But perhaps I should allow Debby to tell you a little of herself:
Debby Gies is a Canadian non-fiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. D.G. is born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart, and women’s issues hoping to empower others.
Why I write: I love to tell stories that have lessons in them and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest, hoping that others can relate and find that we always have a choice to move from a negative space to a positive. We need only the courage to take the leap.
Describe yourself in three words: Optimistic, funny, worry-wart. (Is that four words?)
Best advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Never do something to someone you wouldn’t want done unto yourself.
Now let’s talk school. First of all, could you tell us where you attended school?
I’m born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I originally began grade 1 going to a parochial school. Before the school year ended, I was stamping my feet demanding I wanted to go to ‘real school’, lol, meaning public school. I got my wish and grade 2 was Kenton Drive Public School where I was thrilled to have Miss Jacobs for my teacher as she was very compassionate toward me. In middle of grade 4, we moved (again) and changed schools to Rockford Road Public School till grade 7 where I spent my 3 years at Fisherville Junior High. In grade 10 I went to high school at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate – far out of my living district, but considered higher academically than the one near my home. It was a half mile walk to the bus and 3 busses there and back a day throughout high school. After high school I moved away from home and began working and taking night school classes for business and accounting where I received diplomas, which proved useful for many of the secretarial and admin jobs I had through the years. I also became a certified travel agent and then proceeded back to University of Toronto to study voice and theory in music.
Did you attend a government, private or independent school?
They were all government schools.
What is the highest level of education you achieved?
High school diploma and the school of hard knocks.
What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?
While in school I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do. My initial goals were to become a journalist or a lawyer. I had the grades to do so but not the inspiration nor the encouragement to follow through. I worked in the clothing industry for a few years in my early twenties, started as a salesgirl, working my way up to managerial positions and buyer. The fashion bug hit me early. I then became an executive secretary for a general manager of the Carlton Inn Hotel – best job ever! And then I moved on to run an office for a construction company for a friend and later did the same work for an architectural firm. After ‘those days’ I went to ‘dealer’ school where I became a licensed blackjack and poker dealer and worked in the casino business until I met my husband. I also spent the better part of my twenties trying to catch a break in the music industry as a singer. Fun times in bands doing gigs. I recorded a demo tape, but eventually I gave up the dream.
What is your earliest memory of school?
My earliest memory of school was a kind teacher I had in kindergarten – Mrs. Wagner. She knew my emotional struggles and paid me extra attention. I came from a severely, ongoing, broken home situation and a few of these teachers I pointed out were like angels with radar.
What memories do you have of learning to read?
Honestly, I don’t have any memories of learning to read other than I loved reading. Nobody ever read to me at home and we didn’t have any books. I must have had some great teachers!
What memories do you have of learning to write?
I couldn’t wait how to learn to write. I do remember I began writing as soon as I learned how to write as a tool to release my thoughts and feelings. I wrote poems and love notes on scraps of paper and made cards. Some I gave to intended recipients – some I never showed a soul.
What do you remember about math classes?
I enjoyed math until high school and always had good grades, but I lost interest when we began learning physics and calculus. I much preferred English and French classes. Languages have always fascinated me.
What was your favourite subject?
It’s a toss up between history and geography. I loved to learn about other countries and cultures, even as a child. But I’ll have to go with geography, which I think stimulated my interest to travel.
What did you like best about school?
My teachers. I had developed several rapports with teachers in many grades. When I look back on those days, I know it had to do with the compassion and extra attention they gave me that I didn’t receive at home.
What did you like least about school?
I hated gym class. I was not an active child, more of a thinker than a doer. I didn’t like the ugly uniforms we wore that weren’t the least flattering, especially for girls carrying extra weight, and I didn’t enjoy sports. I was the proverbial girl chosen last when picking teams. Here’s the girl who always kept a high 80s average throughout high school until the year I actually failed gym, which cut into my good grade average. Seriously, who fails gym?
How do you think schools have changed since your school days?
Oh my, that’s a loaded question. Even though I never had children, I’m quite aware how much the system has changed. There have been many cutbacks in after school programs, classrooms have too many students in them, and I hear complaints from parents that their kids are inundated with homework nowadays. Not to mention, the whole computer era that wasn’t our world then. The saddest thing I think that’s happening is the decision to no longer teach cursive writing. How on earth can they not teach that anymore? It’s sad the art of letter writing is on its way out with time. It also makes me wonder if children will even learn how to sign their name where print doesn’t cut it.
What do you think schools (in general) do well?
I’m not too familiar with what’s happening nowadays in classrooms, but I do know from having a 7-year-old great niece and having picked her up from school a few times, the system for safety seems to be excellent before picking up children from school. I must sign in, and my niece (her mother) must call the school to alert them someone else will be picking up her child.
How do you think schools could be improved?
They could definitely use more government funding, more teachers, more after school programs, and more benefits for the children whose families can’t afford supplies and books for their kids, and for field trips.
Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Debby. It’s pleasing to know that you enjoyed school and that you had compassionate teachers who helped you blossom. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I learned so much I didn’t already know about you.
Find out more about Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye)
and connect with her on social media or any of her author and blog pages
www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (Of course there’s a story to this name!)
Debby invites you to come join our Literary Diva’s Library Facebook group for writers and authors
And our #ABRSC –Authors/bloggers rainbow support club.
We are also on Mewe – https://mewe.com/join/theliterarydivashangout
If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:
Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
With more to follow.
Note that, as next Sunday is Easter Sunday, I won’t be posting an interview. Pauline’s interview will be posted on 28 April. See you then.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.