School Days Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

School Days, Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

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 Darlene Foster, world traveller and writer of travel adventure books for children and adventurers of all ages. Darlene joined in the conversations about school days from the beginning and was keen to share her own reminiscences with you.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Darlene to tell you a little of herself:

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places.  Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot.

Darlene Foster and her books

Welcome, Darlene.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

Until grade 4, I attended a small rural school in the Canadian prairies, Hilda, Alberta, in which one teacher taught two grades. Then we moved to another rural community, Irvine, Alberta, where I attended a much larger school with separate grades including high school for the rest of my school days.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

These were government schools, which we call public schools in Canada.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I left school in Grade 11 so did not graduate with my classmates. I did however complete high school via correspondence. I took many college courses over the years and when I turned fifty, I graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language, via distant learning. I also acquired a number of Certificates in Human Resource Management and Job Search Facilitation. I believe in lifelong learning and will continue taking courses for the rest of my life.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I worked in retail management, recruitment, employment counselling and as an ESL Teacher, all as a result of courses I have taken. I have also taken many writing courses over the years, including university-level courses, which have been very beneficial to me now as a writer.

Darlene Fosters's earliest memory of school

What is your earliest memory of school? 

I remember the first day I walked into the classroom. I thought I was in heaven, all those books and so much to learn. I was like a sponge, thirsty for knowledge. I loved school from before I even started and could easily have been a professional student. Even now when I walk into a classroom for an author presentation, I get that same feeling of awe.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I could read a bit before I started school. I recall my dad reading the comics, which we called the funny papers, in the weekly newspaper with me. That may have been how I started to read. I loved the Dick and Jane readers at school and being able to read a story on my own was so exciting.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I recall that being able to print was great but when I learned cursive writing, I was delighted. My writing was very neat and tidy for the first couple of years and I even won prizes for it. Then I started to write stories of my own and my writing couldn’t keep up with my thoughts and ideas. It soon became very messy, but I just had to get it all down on paper. It is totally unreadable now. Thank heaven for computers.

What do you remember about math classes?

Math classes were OK but not my favourite. I always had to work harder on math but still got good marks. I do recall enjoying algebra though, while everyone else hated it. Proof that I am a letters person, not a numbers person.

What was your favourite subject? 

It was a tie between English Literature, Social Studies and Drama.

what Darlene Foster liked best about school

What did you like best about school?

Learning new things and the teachers. My grade three teacher, in particular, was amazing. She taught us about other countries by getting us involved. When we learned about Mexico she gave us Spanish names, cooked Mexican food for us and brought in colourful serapes and sombreros for us to wear. She instilled in me the desire to travel and see the world. She also encouraged me to write my stories down. I will be forever grateful to her.

I was an odd child and actually enjoyed taking tests. When we moved, the school season had already started by two months and I had started grade 5 at the old school. I was so excited about going to what I considered a much more modern school. It was a day the class was taking a provincial pre-packaged test and there wasn’t a package for me. I was devastated that I couldn’t take the test and actually cried. The other students thought I was crazy as they would have happily given up doing the test.

Darlene Foster reminiscences of school days

What did you like least about school? 

Physical Training. I was never good at sports and was always the last to be picked for a team. I came up with all kinds of excuses not to participate and was often sick on P.T. day. And those awful bloomers we had to wear! One wise teacher gave me the job of being the scorekeeper, which I enjoyed.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Since it has been a long time since I went to school, they have obviously changed, a lot. They have changed since my own kids went to school. The biggest change is the use of technology of course. I love those whiteboards that act as a computer screen. They are like magic. There is much more positive reinforcement and focus on diversity and individuality today. I like the fact that school is less formal and more relaxed. We couldn’t even wear pants (trousers) to school and had to wear skirts even on -40C days. Now they even have pyjama days!

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

As a writer, I often visit schools to do readings and I am very impressed with schools today. The students are so eager to learn and proud of their accomplishments. There seems to be an emphasis on reading and creative activities which is so good to see. Children respond to learning if it is fun and there is no reason for it not to be. Personally, I would love to be a student in today’s schools.

Darlene Foster reminiscences of school days

How do you think schools could be improved?

I do think teachers are often overworked. It is a demanding job and one in which you have to be on all the time. Many get burned out which is too bad as it is often the most dedicated that do. Perhaps hiring more assistants or having smaller classes would help. It is such an important job as these kids are our future.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Darlene. It’s a pleasure to have you here. I especially love that you are excited about learning and particularly being a life-long learner. I enjoyed reading your positive views about schools today.

Find out more about Darlene Foster

On her website: http://www.darlenefoster.ca/

On her blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Or her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect with Darlene on social media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

Books by Darlene Foster

Purchase your own copies of Darlene’s books from Amazon.

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

137 thoughts on “School Days, Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

  1. Pingback: School Days, Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli | Norah Colvin

  2. Pingback: School Days, Reminiscences of Susan Scott | Norah Colvin

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Nice to get to know you Darlene. I too had attended a school where three, then two grades were combined as it was such a small population. Also like you, I never minded a test, and I’ve said if I won the lottery one of my luxuries would be college courses just for fun.
    Are life long learners by nature travelers, or is it that travelers are by nature life long learners? I guess it’s not such a good question, they are one and the same. Enjoy your travels.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      A good point, we can learn a lot while travelling, especially if we are open to learning. Many folks are armchair travellers, for many reasons, and continue to learn. Pleased you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. TanGental

    Blimey. You liked tests? Have you had counselling? We had to wear shorts until 11 whatever the weather and long trousers after whatever the weather… Seems to me the uniform should factor in the weather. Here most schools require it until the sixth form (16-18) and it has more to do with avoiding any competition than some urge to corral. It’s so much easier to wear what you are told than decide. That said, my daughter rolled up her skirt from the uniform length to the de jour pelmet that most 13 years apparently preferred until told to roll it down. The debate recently has been about boys wearing skirts if they want… progress is a funny construct, don’t you know?

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      I think Australia has uniforms for the same (supposed) equality thing. I’m not sure how effective it is but, as you say, it beats having to make a decision. Boys wearing skirts? Well, why not?

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Darlene

      I know, I was so weird. I really wanted to take that test. The only kids who wore uniforms in Canada were students at expensive private schools. I too would roll up my skirt at school and then let it down before I got home once I became a teenager and mini skirts were popular. What a rebel I was!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  5. CarolCooks2

    I didn’t enjoy PE either, Darlene..Love your school memories not sure if I can remember that much of my early years maybe I will if I think about it…I have never liked exams though or not until I was a lot older and realised I had to study for them…How lovely that you met up with your teacher I think that is awesome 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      At the time, in rural Alberta, not liking sports made you an oddball. Everything revolved around baseball in the summer, hockey in the winter and basketball, volleyball and tennis in between. Sports day was a nightmare for me and I was often sick that day. Meeting up with my teacher 50 years later was awesome and I still keep in touch.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. CarolCooks2

        It was netball in the summer and hockey in the winter for us..Netball I didn’t mind but hockey in the freezing cold and our P.E skirts no tracksuit bottoms allowed then…Although I avoided sports day like the plague..haha…That is really lovely , Darlene after all those years for both of you x

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  6. Natalie

    Hi Darlene – So great to see you successfully pursue your dreams to travel, become a writer, and live in warmer climate! Much enjoyed reading this. Thank you, Darlene and Norah. #senisal

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      Thanks, Natalie. It was a lot of hard work and I certainly made some mistakes along the way, but with perseverance, some of my dreams have come true. Having a good start in life helps of course as does having good teachers and encouraging parents. I consider myself lucky in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. joylennick

    Great to read of your school experiences, Darlene. As you know, mine were very different…As for school uniforms, when I went to Pitman’s College, I was encouraged to wear a gymslip, which I hated as I looked like a bag tied up in the middle (too bustie…). After a while, I was allowed to wear ‘ordinary’ clothes, which was a great relief. It seems pretty obvious that most writers are not mad about maths, or sports – although I quite liked rounders. How lucky you were to have such an imaginative teacher! Cheers! x

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting on Darlene’s reminiscences, Joy. Her school days were very different from yours but both are equally interesting. Some commonalities run through but each situation is unique.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. Jennie

    Wonderful school stories, Darlene. You haven’t changed a bit. 🙂 I can relate to much of what you experienced. Oh, I dreaded gym class and the ugly outfits. School uniforms or restrictions on clothing can be a good thing. If only every teacher was like Miss Roll! Thank you, Norah.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  9. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    We have a lot in common, Darlene. I went to a rural school in northern Maine and for the first eight years, we had two classes in each room. You’d think it would be a distraction but we listened to the lessons for the older kids, and we were more than ready for promotion to the next grade. I couldn’t wear slacks to high school no matter how cold it was, and no matter how much I voiced my complaints to the school administration. Thank goodness that foolish rule is gone today! English was my favorite subject, too. I went to college to become a nurse, but I like the idea of taking some writing classes now that I’m retired. You’ve done a terrific job honoring your dream of traveling and becoming a writer.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      Perhaps our complaints paved the way for schools to rethink the no pants policy! You’re welcome next generation. I do believe rural schools were similar in most of North America at that time. Always great to read about similarities!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading, Molly, and for your lovely comment to Darlene. It is interesting to hear about the similarities of Darlene’s schooling to yours.
      The invitation to join in is still open to you, if you’d like. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  10. Audrey Driscoll

    Some of your experiences sound familiar. I went to elementary school in Prince George BC. Winters were a lot colder back then (everyone says that when they get older), and I remember wearing pants under skirts for the trip to school. I was a librarian at the University of Saskatchewan in the ’80s, probably before you were there. Saskatoon is a great small city, but I have to admit I was happy to return to BC, especially Victoria, where I’ve lived since 1992. Thanks for sharing these memories!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      Prince George would have been cold just like the Medicine Hat area. So you know of what I speak. I took a distance learning course with the University of Sask in the late 1990s. It was excellent. Love Victoria, a beautiful part of the world. Glad you enjoyed the memories.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  11. debrapurdykong

    Really interesting blog post, Darlene. P.E. was my last favorite subject too. Always picked last for baseball teams, etc. but we have a terrific library in our elementary school, and in grades 6 & 7 I spent a lot of time volunteering there. Being around books was the best thing about school for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      I would have loved to volunteer in the library. It wasn’t an option at the time. It’s funny how many writers didn’t like PE, which we called PT. I was always picked last too.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. debrapurdykong

        Yes, I think it’s about following our true paths. But as I’ve aged, I’ve come to really respect and admire athletes, especially those who represent Canada in world-class competition. What they do is truly amazing.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  12. marianbeaman

    This is lovely, Darlene. One thing I remember from my first day at school was being assigned to the only black desk in the classroom. Not happy!

    I’m sure you cherish that photo with your 3rd grade teacher. I can tell she adored you, already a good reader and writer!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      That photo is very special and I’m so glad I have it. I looked up Miss Roll (Mrs. Tucker now) about 7 years ago to thank her for what she did for me. She sent me the digital copy of the picture as well as the one of the whole grade 3/4 class. We arranged to meet and had a great reminiscence. It had been her first class out of university and she said she would never forget it. My dad always said, “It’s the folks we meet that make the difference in our lives.” So true.

      Liked by 2 people

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    2. Norah Post author

      What an interesting memory of an interesting situation, Marian. I wonder why there was only one black desk, why you were assigned to it, and why you didn’t like it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  13. dgkaye

    So nice to see Darlene featured here today Norah. I have to say, it seems unanimous about 2 things from all the interviews I’ve read here: writers didn’t like phys-ed, or cared much for math, LOL. True creatives. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  14. Christa Polkinhorn

    That was very interesting, Darlene! I saw myself in some of your memories. I went to a small country school in Switzerland where we were six grades in one class room for the first three years. It was so much fun, because we got to watch the older students learning and doing their exercises. I could hardly wait to get there myself. My favorite topic was reading, not much surprise there!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      Those smaller rural schools with shared grades were wonderful as in some ways you could work at your own pace. I was always reading what the older class read and like you, couldn’t wait to do their studies.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    2. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Christa. It sounds like your reminiscences of school days in Switzerland would make interesting reading too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  15. Darlene

    Reblogged this on Darlene Foster's Blog and commented:
    I am honoured to be featured on Nora Colvin’s blog where I discuss my school days. This is a fun feature. I love to read about the experiences everyone has had in various parts of the world and at different times.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      We did wear itchy wool stockings which I hated. Sometimes when it was very cold we would wear trousers under our skirts and take them off when we got to school. Glad you enjoyed reading about my school memories.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  16. petespringerauthor

    I enjoy this weekly feature so much. I was particularly interested in Darlene’s comments about visiting schools. Since I taught thirty-one years, I want her to know that when authors came to visit the schools, this was one of my favorite days. Something about putting a face of an author with a book they had read or had read to them made them realize that becoming an author was possible.

    I feel so strongly about this that since retirement, I have joined our local author’s festival committee. This group brings twenty-five children’s authors to our local schools to make presentations. Becoming a children’s writer is also my dream, as I am now starting to write my first children’s books.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      Thanks for your comments about school visits, Pete. I just love doing them and the students are always so attentive and well behaved. Good luck with your children’s book.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Pete, I’m so pleased you are enjoying the interviews. How are you going with your responses? I’m looking forward to receiving them if you’re still interested in joining in.
      I agree with you about author visits, Pete. They were one of my favourite days too – as much (or more) for me as for the children. I still get a kick out of meeting authors and illustrators. The work of your local author’s festival committee is wonderful. What a treat for all involved.
      I wish you success with your own children’s books. It’s a wonderful ambition.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. petespringerauthor

        I haven’t forgotten, Norah. One of these days when I don’t have so much going on. One of my brothers and I joke about how we are almost as busy in retirement as we were in our careers. How did we ever find the time to work? Ha-ha!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          That’s fine, Pete. When you’re ready. No hurry.
          I’ve heard others say that about retirement. I think that’s maybe why I never want to retire. I’d rather just have holidays. (Whatever they are!) LOL

          Like

          Reply
    1. Darlene

      Thanks, Jacquie. We took the school bus but it was a 1/4 mile to the bus stop. It was cold. So cold I swore I would live in a warmer part of the world one day. Here I am basking in the sun in Spain.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  17. Susan Scott

    Much enjoyed this Darlene & Norah thank you. If I’d had a teacher like Miss Roll, I would have been on a roll forever. How wonderful that she introduced you to Mexico in the way that she did – I can think of nothing more pleasurable.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      Thanks, Susan. I was so blessed to have Miss Roll as a teacher. I looked her up a few years ago and thanked her for what she did for me. She has written a couple of books as well!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  18. Darlene

    Thanks so much, Nora to include reminiscences of my school days. Times I recall fondly, in spite of having to wear a skirt in extremely cold weather. Perhaps it made me tough!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It was my pleasure to interview you, Darlene. I loved your responses to my questions and was fascinated by your school days. I particularly appreciate your positive attitude to school. Thank you so much for joining in and sharing so honestly.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  19. robbiesinspiration

    It’s so interesting to learn about Darlene’s school days, and she hasn’t changed much. I recognised her instantly in her grade 3 photograph. I never experienced a rural school and this made me think of Little house on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I must be honest, that I don’t agree with the relaxation of the uniform requirements. It has gone hand-in-hand with a breakdown in discipline and this has resulted in a lot of issues in the senior schools. I am a great believer in self control and discipline [not corporal punishment but consequences].

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Darlene

      Thanks, Robbie. I’m pleased you recognized me! I guess it was a bit like Little House on the Prairie now that I think about it. Since I nor my children never attended a school which required uniforms, I haven’t noticed a difference in the behaviour. I now visit public and private schools and the discipline seems the same. At the time I just thought it was cruel to make us wear skirts (they weren’t part of a uniform) even on very cold days and we had quite far to travel to school. It wasn’t long after I left school that rule was changed. I mean the boys were able to wear jeans why couldn’t we. It was a pre-sixties sexist thing. Funny what you recall.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. Norah Post author

        I did wear a school uniform, Darlene. They are compulsory in Australian schools (except for perhaps a few independent/alternative schools). Our skirts had to be exactly 4 inches above the knee when kneeling and all sorts of other regulations. The uniform regime seems a lot more relaxed now. Which is a good thing, I think. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
    2. Norah Post author

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed Darlene’s post, Robbie. I thought the same – that Darlene was still recognisable. I love those early photos of her.
      It is interesting that you picked up on the lack of school uniforms. It didn’t strike me as different. Although uniforms are compulsory in Australia, I know they are not in many places and are not usually portrayed in movies, television shows and books about school. Interesting. Your comment made me wonder if uniforms had been compulsory in SA but now relaxed.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. robbiesinspiration

        School uniforms are compulsory in South Africa still but the rules relating to the wearing of the uniform are no longer applied. For examples, our skirts had to be a certain length and now the skirts are so short it is a bit shocking, although I am not particularly conservative. Long hair had to be neat and tied back, now the girls have their hair all over the place and I don’t personally think it is an improvement. Darlene’s circumstances were different. The uniform should be suitable and keep the children cool or warm as required. We also had to wear skirts in my day but we could wear thick stockings.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

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