Eye on the Storm interviewed Ms. Fletcher, our new vice principal, to talk about her new position at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate.
Eyeonthestorm: What schools did you teach at before coming to J. Clarke Richardson?
I taught at Cartwright High School in Durham for 3 years and at the time it was the smallest public high school in Ontario. There were about 110 students in total and this was the school I graduated from.
I did teachers college for primary and junior students then an extra qualification for intermediate students. Then one of my former teachers at Cartwright High School called me up and said there was an opening for drama at our school and I should apply!
I hadn’t gotten my senior [High school] qualification yet but still applied and got the position under the condition that I do my senior qualification in the summer. I taught drama and English and enjoyed it a lot.
Eyeonthestorm: Where did you study to become a teacher?
Mrs. Fletcher: I went to Nipissing University for teachers college. I did my undergrad and master’s degree at the University of Guelph. I then took a year off to work at the University of Alberta as a theatre archivist.
They were just starting their collection and they have the best theatre archives in all of Canada. My job was to gather and organize documents from Edmonton theatres. The archives were in a big IKEA warehouse and when I first took the job I thought I would be interacting with students and professors but I ended up being by myself a lot of the time.
It took two buses to get to the warehouse, and I was there early in the morning. It would be dark, freezing and I’d work there all day. When I left at night, it would still be dark and freezing!
When my contract ended I left Edmonton and came back here. I spent my time working as an artist with a friend of mine who was a sculptor. I traveled around Europe and ended up staying in Luxembourg with another friend of mine who was applying to teachers college. I then decided that was what I wanted to study.
After that I applied to Cartwright and got the job there. I lost that position when the [grade] thirteenth year was cancelled, and I was the youngest on staff. This was the second year Richardson was open and there was an opening for the Drama department. I applied and got accepted in 2003.
Eyeonthestorm: What was your first impression of Richardson?
Mrs. Fletcher: It was a shock at first because J Clarke is the exact opposite of Cartwright High school. Cartwright is in Blackstock Ontario, a very small school in a rural area. Many of the kids were in farming families. There was very little diversity in the makeup of the students. All of them were in academic classes because no other types of courses were offered.
Richardson is incredibly diverse in terms of everything, and I love that about Richardson. Cartwright is small, and doesn’t have many facilities. We used to walk down to the local town hall and use empty rooms for drama class.
Richardson on the other hand has a huge beautiful theatre and a massive drama room with seats that come out and I love it! There are so many things about Cartwright that I still love. I love the tight net community, I love that it’s generational and all of the students’ school spirit.
Richardson has so many great things I love: the diversity, working with all the staff and the kids, and having these fantastic facilities. But in Cartwright, I knew everybody in the school and their parents, and sometimes even their grandparents, because it was such a small community. In Richardson there are a lot of students I still don’t know, and I dislike that, but Richardson has many other great qualities.
Eyeonthestorm: What inspired you to become a teacher?
Mrs. Fletcher: Both of my parents are teachers, which was a big influence. The other big reason was that I loved school. I was in all kinds of clubs and teams and [my] school’s student government. I liked being in that educational atmosphere because I love learning.
Teaching is a great profession because it lets you explore a lot of your favourite interests. You can do outdoor activities and athletics and the arts as a part of your job. That’s what I really love about teaching.
Eyeonthestorm: You play a big role in Richardson’s musicals. What do you enjoy most about them?
Mrs. Fletcher: What I love about the musicals are the qualities back from Cartwright, because there are around 100 students involved, and you know all of them. Whether they are in the cast, or in the band or in the tech crew they all get to know each other and work together to overcome obstacles and challenges and to make this amazing production at the end. You have to learn how to problem solve and work together well.
I love doing the musical. I started helping out in the musical [beginning with] “Honk!” I have done it every year since except for the year I was on maternity leave and the year afterwards when I was working in Academic Resource. I love doing it and it is a passion of mine. I studied drama and I am happy to be involved with it.
Eyeonthestorm: What was the last book you read?
Mrs. Fletcher: I read Adult Onset by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Ann-Marie MacDonald is also a playwright. She is one of my favorite playwrights and [also] wrote Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) which is one of my favorite plays. She also hosts Doc Zone on CBC. MacDonald is also a novelist. She wrote The Way the Crow Flies and Fall on your Knees. She is about my age, maybe a little bit older.
Her novel Adult Onset is from the perspective of her, a mother in her late thirties/early forties with two young children, which is what I also have. I love this story because she talks about her day to day workings of being a mom. She is also interesting too because her partner is a woman, so she is talking from the perspective of a lesbian, which is a voice you don’t hear often. I love any book by her. I bought the book when I went to see her in Uxbridge where she did a book talk last fall.
Eye on the Storm would like to thank Ms. Fletcher for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this short Q&A. On behalf of Eye on the Storm, we wish Ms. Fletcher the best of luck for this upcoming year and we know she will do a great job!