First of all, it is weird to call this individual by her first name. I know her as "Mrs. Grimshaw". I can't remember all the details of high school but I do remember my first day heading into tenth grade...moreover, I remember the bell ending "nutrition" and going into my tenth grade history class. I was brand new to LAHS and I didn't really know anybody. I had gotten into the arts school they hosted on their campus and so I transferred and started new beginning. I walked up the ramp into a pop up trailer and took my seat. The bell rang again and immediately we were all greeted by a rather calming but attentive voice. "Ladies and Gentlemen...." (kids being noisy) "Ladies and Gentlemen"...(kids lowering their voices)..."Ladies and Gentlemen..And We're Back". I smiled. She was different. There was a charming and mysterious quality to her. I.E.-She could be warm and motherly but don't piss her off or your ass was on the chopping block...Or was it? I wasn't sure but I liked that I didn't know. There was something about this particular teacher that really spoke to my heart. Over the next 9 months, I would look forward to learning about history with Mrs. Grimshaw. We looked at Geography and studied WW1. "Ladies and Gentlemen" one day went out the door. She called us "Comrades" when we learned about Communism and differences between that and Socialism. We read excerpts from "Animal Farm". She showed us the cartoon video and I remember thinking the pigs were so mean looking and how this wasn't going to be a light or uplifting topic the way one might think animals should always be. I recall the name "Otto von Bismarck" , Totalitarianism, and how Mussolini was just as awful as Hitler. She taught us about the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. Somewhere in there, we learned about pig hair being used in toothbrushes. (Pigs-a reoccuring theme, I guess :) I believe it was used as part of a metaphor for people and racism towards each other but how we were all the same when it came down to it. I wish I could remember more detail than that, but it's lost in the jungles of my mind. It was in her classroom that we learned the Columbine shootings were occurring and at one point, the school was in a severe lock down for fear of that happening where we were. I cannot begin to imagine how scared she must have felt but she never once showed us. Instead, she kept us calm and comforted those who were crying. To pass the time and to keep our spirits up, she encouraged a few of us to sing for the class. She was kind. She was inspirational and I loved her love of history. Every day, it showed. She made her way into my heart through her support of my dreams as a girl and became one of, if not my favorite teachers in High School. I feel so blessed to still know her as an adult. The possibility of my own children having her as a teacher, is slowly becoming a reality. I can't think of anything greater or magical than that.
I knew she was someone I wanted to interview when I began this project. She invited me to sit in on her class. Camera in hand, I took my seat in the back of the class. Immediately, I was transported back to my 15-year-old self as soon as the bell rang. A time capsule was released in my brain as soon as I heard, "Ladies and Gentlemen"..."Ladies and Gentlemen"..."Ladies and Gentlemen...And we're back". I wondered how many hundreds of students have walked through her doors and heard those same words. We were truly, the luckiest ones. Thank you, Mrs. Grimshaw.
What is your name and how do we know each other?
How old are you?
What are you currently doing with yourself? Parenting/Career/School?
Are you where you hoped you would be? If not/ Why? If so-what do you love about it and could you see yourself doing anything else?
Well, when I was little I thought I would be the first woman president. I didn’t do that but I get to affect the world in different ways by teaching. I also wanted to be an actress. Teaching is a little bit of acting throughout the day. As a parent, I’m an older mom. I think that’s where I should be too because if I were younger. I would kill them. You gotta know your strengths. :)
Women are becoming a resilient sound that cannot be silenced. What are you doing to contribute that sound?
I’ve never been one to hold back. If I think that if there’s evil in the world, I try to do something about it. I helped with a campaign for the school board in Los Al for Maris Davidson. I’ve served on the school board for teachers union. If someone asks my opinion, I will honestly give it. They don’t have to like everything I say but I hope that they take something from the other side.
What is something you learned from a younger age that has stuck with you?
If you want something, you have to be willing to work for it. Perseverance is something that’s important. To quote one of my favorite movies, “The hard is what makes it great.”
Who is an individual who made a profound impact on you and why?
My mom. My mom was a single parent raising 7 children. My dad left when I was 8 years old. The oldest of all of us was 16. I had a lot of responsibility from a young age. My mom would work two jobs. She did whatever she could to help us.
What is a weakness or something that exposes your vulnerability and what do you do to combat/embrace it in order to grow?
I think I wear my heart on my sleeve but I have gotten a little more guarded as I've grown. Leading with your heart has gotten me in trouble sometimes and sometimes it’s taken me a few days to get out of it. I survived breast cancer. I went through surgery and reconstruction. This Feb 18th It will be 4 years being cancer free. As great as that sounds, all the cliched quotes come to mind. To quote Shawshank (she is a big lover of film) “Hope is a dangerous thing” but to that I counter with “you gotta have it, or you’ll die without it.”
What is something that you want to accomplish and what are you doing to get to that place, if anything?
There are so many things I still want to do...I’d like to get down to a size 6 :). (she says with a laugh) That’s a joke. I want to travel the world and experience different cultures. Machu Picchu. Australian Outback. I want to go to South Africa and see the penguins. I want to go to Antarctica and see the penguins. (She points to her penguin collection behind her). Can you tell I like them?
And now..a few questions to lighten the mood...
Dogs or Cats?
Cheeseburgers or Salad?
Can’t I have both?
Beach or Mountains?
Sweet or Salty?
Salty. Pretzels..forget about it.
Lose all of your old memories or never make new ones?
No. Too much info. My mom had dementia. I don’t think I’d want to lose memories. There’s too much good in my memories. Even in the bad ones, I learned something important .
Disney..or is there any alternative?
Does that include Pixar? Those are of my fav….because I am after all, Mrs. Incredible. (She smiles her cool and coy smile).
What is a fun fact that someone may not know about you?
Well, the I am the California State Hula Hoop Champion. I can stand on my head and do hula hoops on my head.
And the final two important questions...
What is a common misconception about you that people make based on your appearance? What is your truth and how do you personify strength?
Well, first of all redheads get stereotyped. Part of it is true. I’m passionate and only show my temper to some people. I think people think as a teacher than you only watch documentaries, or PBS. I’m fun. I know lots of different things about a lot of different things . Little connections are my favorite. God is in the details. I love it when people see those connections.
You have inspired me. What about yourself do you hope to put out in order to inspire other young people?
Work hard and stay positive. I kinda lean in the positive so that's why it’s so hard for me in the harder times. But, even in the negative you can find the positive. Be a good human.