Friday Two Cents: What’s In A Name


‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ William Shakespeare

Something interesting this school year has been happening to me. It involves how the students address me. In the majority of schools I have worked in, they call me Mr. Gauchi or Mr. G, yet in one school they have been calling me Mr. Paul and this year I have asked the students and teachers to please call me by my last name. You see at this school I was working in the after school program where they call teachers by their first names, however when I started working for the board at other schools as a supply ECE they called me by my last name. This past year I was finally placed on the occasional teacher list so I can supply teach, therefore I made the decision that I would like to be addressed by my last name. I find it to be more professional and whenever the staff and students have asked me why I tell them this.   The staff and students have accepted this yet there are a few adults who looked at me with a disapproving look.

It is not as if I get upset with people if they address me by my first name I simply remind them to call me by my last name, usually with a smile. Yet these adults give me a look that says “Oh you think you are so big now because you are a teacher and not an ECE.”   This usually does not bother me, but this has not been the only instance from these people where they resist something I have said. I have been getting this type of behaviour when I make suggestions or tell them something else in the school. It’s as if by calling me by my last name that I am a different person and from whom they know.
Mind you I do feel different ever since I started working as a teacher instead of an ECE. There is more responsibility and I have become the central person in the classroom. The students look to me for guidance and support, the Captain of a ship, as I once stated. Perhaps it is just me, but I have always trusted my instincts and they usually end up being correct.
I am not sure why this would be an issue for some people. We all have the right to be addressed the way we wish to be addressed. In the end I am still the same person I was those years when everyone called me Mr. Paul. Perhaps this has something to do with change. Most people do not like change and yet everyday is different from the last. I think Lao Tzu said it best …

‘Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.’ Lao Tzu

I have embraced a lot of change in the past 5 to 10 years, both personally and professionally. It has not been easy but looking back I can honestly say they have been for the better. Change naturally occurs and the more easily we embrace the change, the less sorrow we may endure.



Art Inspiration: Imagine The Impossible: Steampunk Woman 01



‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.’ Aristotle


‘This world is but a canvas to our imagination.’ Henry David Thoreau


‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ Walt Disney


Inspiration and Imagination, something every artist needs and is elusive as an island of tranquility in a sea of chaos. Many people have told me that I inspire the children and people in general with what I do. Whether creating art, playing baseball or trying to improve my life, people say that I have inspired others to try new things and look inside themselves. I have always found this interesting because I get my inspiration from these very people. Whether it be a child asking me about Mythology or adults asking me about their children or even just talking to people about a number of different topics, they have inspired me to create and use my imagination to bring the impossible possible.

A prime example is when I draw the staff at my school as cartoon characters or caricatures. It started one year around Christmas when we have our Christmas concert and staff dinner. Always after the concert, we go out for dinner and we exchange gifts, such as a Chris Kringle. I wanted to liven things up and instead of giving Christmas cards, I decided to create my own with the staff members as a caricature.
This specific year the inspiration for the caricatures came from my own person exploration of a style known as Steampunk. Steampunk is a subgenre of science-fiction and fantasy that came out of literary works such as Jules Vern and H.G. Wells to name a couple. But Steampunk can be best described by breaking up the word. “Steam” represents the era mostly the early industrial age around the early to mid-Victorian Era. “Punk” represents rebellion or going against the norm.
The “Punk” or rebellion signifies going against what is expected on the technology level as well as societal norms. On the technology level you see cars that are steamed powered, flying dirigibles or airships the size and look of sailing vessels or even steam-powered walking machines.   Yet when it comes to rebellion on the societal side, it affects women the most. During this time women were relegated to subordinates to the men, covering up themselves, not taking up employment or independent behavior. That is why in Steampunk you will see many women showing cleavage or wearing short skirts and showing a lot of leg to show off their stockings.
It took quit a while to create the caricatures but once the staff received them they loved the cards and caricatures. In the next few weeks I will be posting a few of the characters from the cards because these people inspired me to create these characters. Hopefully they can spur imagination and inspire others.


Steampunk Woman 01


The first caricature is a person whom I wanted to show their rebellious side. I wanted to create the caricature with a skirt and high boots along with the customary leather corset. I then added the puffy shirt that highlighted the breasts and cleavage. I then added the two belts with packs, goggles and finally a steampunk style rifle. With these caricatures I created a new way of creating hair and with caricature she has long shoulder length blonde hair.

Well she enjoyed the caricature, as did the other staff. I hope you enjoy the first steampunk caricature from “Imagine the Impossible.”

Steampunk Woman 01



Friday Two Cents: Friday the 13th Origins


‘Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.’ Plato


Today is Friday the 13th and in many western cultures, including Canada, we see this day a being unlucky.   Many people believe in this superstition yet they do not know where it came from. Therefore I decided to look up this superstition and see where it’s origins came from.

One possible origin story can related to the Code of Hammurabi. It is one of the world’s oldest legal documents, which may or may not have superstitiously omitted a 13th rule from its list. Others claim that the ancient Sumerians, who considered the number 12 a “perfect” number, considered the one that followed it decidedly as non-perfect.
One of the most popular theories, links Friday the 13th with the downfall of legendary warriors known as the Knights Templar. Founded around 1118 as a monastic military order was devoted to the protection of pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land following the Christian capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. The Knights Templar quickly became one of the richest and most influential groups of the Middle Ages, thanks to the generous donations by the crowned heads of Europe, keen on being in the Knights good graces. Yet by the turn of the 14th century, the Templars had established a system of castles, churches and banks throughout Western Europe, their vast wealth caught the eye of several ambitious and greed men.
It all began in the early morning hours of Friday, October 13, 1307.
Throughout France, secret documents had been sent by couriers a month earlier. The papers included sensational details and rumors of black magic, devil worship and shocking sexual rituals. They were sent by King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V. King Philip was a greedy monarch who in the preceding years had launched attacks on the Lombards (a powerful banking group) and France’s Jews (who he had expelled so he could confiscate their property for his depleted coffers).  Clement also issued a papal bull ordering the western kings to arrest Templars living in their lands. 
On that day and the days and weeks to followed, over 600 Templars were arrested, burnt at the stake and executed in numerous ways. Even the grandmaster Grand Master Jacques de Molay was captured and eventually burnt at the stake. Just before he died Jacques de Molay cursed King Philip’s line and the Pope. Within 13 year King Philips’ sons and grandson were all dead. Pope Clement V died about a year after Jacques de Molay yet while his body lay in state in a church, a thunderbolt struck the church and subsequently burnt with such intensity that after the fire was put out the Pope’s body was nearly completely destroyed.

Maltese Knight – The Knights Hospitaller

Talk about bad luck for the Knights Templar, King Philip and Pope Clement V. No wonder Friday the 13th is seen as bad luck.


Source: Maranzani B., (Oct, 2017) “Why Friday the 13th Spelled Doom for the Knights Templar”, The History Cannel.

Comic Strips: You Snooze, You Lose


Well it is the start of a new school year with a fresh crop of students and situations that can be the basis of my comic strip, The Craziest Things. If you do not know, I am the editor of the afterschool program’s newsletter. I just finished putting the first edition of the 2017-18 newsletters together and sent it out to the parents. Even though it’s a lot of work while I work as an occasional teacher, I enjoy doing it. However my favourite part is creating the comic strip.   I always use the students of the senior grade 5s as my inspiration for the comics. I will draw every grade five in the program as a fun cartoon caricature in a fun and interesting situation.

Many of the other children ask why don’t I use the other grades too. I tell them that these students are the graduating class and they deserve their moment. Also it is hard enough trying to draw 15 – 18 students and place them into 8 – 10 comic strips, just imagine 120. Therefore I had to limit the amount I can draw.
I use many different themes to inspire me to create the comic such as the difference in the generations or the use of technology in the classroom compared to their parents. Yet there are some themes that are universal to all generations.
This month centres on the first day of school. Yes that amazing day when you have to go back to the salt mines, I mean classroom and begin a fresh new year of learning and discovery.  
When it comes down to what students want to do, they have an unlimited amount of choices to choose from. Many parents have told me that they did not have as many choices as their children have when it comes to vacations. In fact many studies have shown that the centre of the family has shifted from what mom and dad want to do, to what the kids want to do. Peter Yesawich, a travel trend expert, has studied family travel for over 20 years. He says that children make the final decision in more than half of all family vacations.  Yet if there are an unlimited amount of choices, how can anyone choice just one, let alone a kid with less life experience. The results might come down to that old saying, “you snooze, you lose.”

I hope you enjoy October’s The Craziest Things: You Snooze, You Lose.

Friday Two Cents: Discovering More Through Play

This week and next I will be working in a kindergarten class where the teacher has asked me to present a lesson centred on math. Math has always been my favourite subject second only to art and when given the opportunity, I raised to the challenge.

It is the beginning if the year and I know that these students are new to counting, especially in French. So I decided to begin by seeing how much do they know when it comes to counting. I came up with several activities to help them and the teacher assess where the students are in their math skills.
I began with some activities with the students using 10 frames, rekenreks, printing the numbers and a bingo game with snap cubes. I noticed a few things that made me see that no matter where I go and with whom I work with, children learn a lot though play. Several of the activities are centred on a play base system. Yes they are doing their work by learning to count in French and they are printing the numbers but to get to those numbers they have to use a spinner like you would use in a game. And the more I and the teacher played / participated in the activity, the more the students, 1) appeared to enjoy it, 2) hopefully learn something from the experience and 3) we learned where each student is in their counting.  
Every time I enter a classroom I always have this quote from Plato in the back of my mind…


‘You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.’ Plato


These activities I did with the students are a clear indication that Plato’s words ring true.




Friday Two Cents: The Power Of George


This week I was fortunate to some supply teach in a kindergarten class. It was a class full of junior kindergarten children. Many people would run in the other direction at the prospect of being in a classroom of 27 three to four-year olds, but not me. I adore kindergarten children, they are so open and honest; something we all lose, as we grow older. Mind you, it did not start off as a bed of roses.

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

You have to remember that it is only the second week of school, a Monday to boot and many of these students have never been in any type of organized school setting. So to say that there were a few tears would be an understatement. It was more of a river, yet I did something that got their minds off their separation anxiety. I brought out my trusty friend, George. If you do not know who is George he is my purple monster/dragon that sounds like Goofy and helps me read stories, sing songs and introduce lessons to the students.  
Once I brought him out and introduced him as my little friend that helps me in the class, the students were mesmerized and many of the tears began to go away. I even had a couple of little girls, “shadows”, beside me for the rest of the day. At one point the art teacher came into the room and I had to leave to go to the washroom and do some work in the office, one of them didn’t want me to leave. I told her that I would be back but she wanted to come with me. I told here I had to go to the washroom but it was the big boys washroom and she kind of understood. She asked several times if I would be back and I reassured her that I would. At the end of the art lesson I returned and the little girls saw me and I said to them “I told you I would be back.” and one even smiled.
The rest of the day went well and George helped with a few songs and a couple of stories. As the day progressed everyone was engaged in the activities in the class and many of the students were wearing smiles when it was time to go home.  
It was an amazing day and George was a big part of it. I have had George for many years and I have brought him into countless classrooms and even after all that, I am astounded at the power of his presence with the students. The morning could have been a disaster but just bring out George helped to calm things down and I was able to connect with the students much quicker. I guess children are all the same, no matter where you go.

George, you have some power that makes people feel at ease. Not only the little kindergarteners, but me too, Thank you little buddy.


Art Inspiration: Heroes Vs. Villains – Final Portrait

As part of the final assignment in my resent drawing club, I had the students create their own hero or villain. Their characters could have up to 2 powers/abilities; a unique name and they had to indicate if they were either a hero or villain. The students also wanted me to redraw their character, in the comic book style, once they had handed their original in. I needed the original as a reference, I told them and I wanted them to do the work. The variety I received was amazing and it inspired me to create a wide range of characters.

I began with my version of the villain’s leader and over the past few weeks I have posted the characters the students created. At the end of the club I gave them a certificate with my version of their character on it. Yet I also wanted to give them something else. I decided to create a final portrait with all the characters in it for everyone in the club. The original was in black and white, in case they wanted to color it themselves, but mostly I did not have the time to create a colour version; until now.  

I hope you to will enjoy the final portrait/collection of all the characters from Heroes VS. Villains.



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