This heart was made by a grade 1 student that I had in my care in 1992, during my second year of what turned out to be a 25 year career working with Children.
I first told this story in my speech during the 2005 Mr. Leatherman Toronto competition. The speech was about how I had learned the most important life lessons from the children I had in my charge. I feel those life lessons were an invaluable gift and am honoured to have studied life under such wise young teachers, and I'd like to relay the story again.
It was a trying day in 1991, I was a new teacher, and by the end of this day I was particularly at my limit, and was scolding the class in a raised and gruff voice. In the middle of my fed-up authority figure rant, a six-year old boy tugged on my pant leg. I looked down and was greeted with a warm, sympathetic smile, and was presented with this hand-drawn heart. That moment of unconditional love immediately diffused my anger and I stopped my rant and gave the little boy a hug and a smile. It's always remained with me as an example of how unconditional love can overcome anything.
Along with the PTSD, I suffered from night terrors on and off for months while waiting for the trial to begin.
A friend and local graffiti and found object artist (as well as OCAD alumnus) Adam Kent created this particularly frightening dream catcher and gifted it to me in the hopes that it would rid me of my night terrors.