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From the Teacher’s Desk

Early in the new year, I was on a flight from St. John’s to Toronto, having spent three weeks on vacation in my native province of Newfoundland and Labrador

While en route, I decided to watch one of the movies from a selection of what the airline called ‘contemporary movies’. The movie I chose was called ‘The King’s Speech’. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it is the story (set in pre-World War II) of King George VI of Britain and his ascension to the throne after the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII.

King George VI, or Bertie as he was called by his family, had a debilitating speech impediment. In order to improve that situation, his wife, Elizabeth, enlisted the help of an enterprising speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Much of the plot of the movie revolves around the relationship developed between the King and his speech therapist. This relationship, though rocky at times, grew into a strong friendship as the movie progressed.

Mr. Logue, through some rather unorthodox methods, eventually enabled the King to control his speech stammer, so much so that he was able to give an inspiring speech to the people of the British Empire at the outbreak of World War II.

I enjoy watching movies of this nature, where the main character is pitted against almost insurmountable odds, and he or she is able to triumph despite the adversity. The fact that the above movie is based on a true story made it all the more endearing to me.

One of the Christmas gifts I received this year was a book from the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series. It’s called ‘From Lemons to Lemonade’. The authors – Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark – have compiled 101 stories from people who, despite daunting circumstances, have risen above the challenges in their life.

Over the past week or two, I’ve read several of the stories. One of those is called ‘The Side Effects of Cancer’ by Florence Strang from Lewin’s Cove on the Burin Peninsula. Ms. Strang was diagnosed with cancer back in 2011. She then faced surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatment.

Despite her ordeal, or because of it, she decided to start a blog (‘’) as a way of chronicling her own story of survival, as well as offering hope to others facing a similar challenge. She eventually turned this blog into a book, co-authored by another cancer survivor, Susan Gonzalez. The book is called ‘100 Perks of Having Cancer: Plus 100 Health Tops for Surviving It’.

The famous American author, Og Mandino, once said: “I am not on this earth by chance. I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand.”

Wouldn’t you agree that all of us want to have that same steadfast determination, displayed by King George VI and Florence Strang, when we face our own obstacles in life? Our challenge might not be the same as the ones they faced, but having the grit to persevere through the difficulty we may be confronting will certainly take us from the strain of the valley to the splendor of the mountaintop.

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