ellenmichelsonphotobyrickiglinert-3photo by Ricki Glinert

A high school teacher in Toronto starting in 1989, I journalled during my retirement year, planning to write a memoir. A couple of side trips followed. One was a fellowship to Greenland for ten months to work with English teachers. The other, when I came home, was unexpected. A by-election drew me to volunteer for the Green Party of Canada. I then was Toronto Centre’s Green Party candidate in the October, 2008 and May, 2011 general elections. After Green Party leader Elizabeth May won a seat in 2011, I volunteered in her Parliament Hill office for three months. I had two responsibilities: attending standing committee meetings on Elizabeth’s behalf, and walking the dog. You can find my blogging about Ottawa on the home page (scroll down, click Next as necessary).

Writing pre-dated my teaching. Upwards of 100,000 words have appeared under my by-line. I was a Professional Writers Association of Canada member for more than 30 years, serving PWAC as a volunteer in various ways, most recently as Ontario Regional Director, when I helped the association transition to becoming part of the Canadian Freelance Guild. A member of the Toronto Heliconian Club, I’ve served on its board, and am proud to be a former chair of its literature section. I’m also a professional member of the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto, and a member of the Women’s Art Association of Canada.

My first teaching job was supplying and then serving as a long-term occasional in a group of communities near Malmö, Sweden, teaching in Swedish. I earned my Master of Arts in Teaching from Harvard University; perhaps because my training there was as a high school teacher, the job I started with was in a school district without a high school. In Toronto, I taught at Northern Secondary and Western Technical-Commercial before ending up at Central Tech, musing from time to time over how so many local school names lack éclat.

Besides teaching in Toronto and in Greenland, I’ve worked with English teachers in Guatemala, and taught for a semester in an Indiana middle school. As a volunteer, I’ve helped staffers at an NGO in Nicaragua with their English, and served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English in Ukraine. I travelled back to Ukraine as a member of the first Canada Corps; we were election observers for the Orange Revolution repeat presidential run-off in the winter of 2004.

When teaching in Toronto, I served as a local Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation representative, carrying district information back to my school and school concerns forward. Non-school volunteer commitments have included ushering for the Hot Docs, Regent Park, and Toronto International Film Festivals and the Village Players theatre, and singing with the Toronto Raging Grannies. I’ve helped dish up and clean up in the Bleecker-Wellesley Activity Network’s cosy kitchen, and at The 519 Church Street Community Centre’s Sunday drop-in, which boasts an industrial-strength dishwasher that astounded me with its speed every time I pressed the buttons. Turning compost and finding happy earthworms with elementary-school keeners for Green Thumbs Growing Kids prepared me to join my co-op’s other Red Wiggler Wranglers. The experts in our group have taught the rest of us that our charges’ preferences and activities, as they change coffee grounds and chopped banana peels into nourishment for our gardens, are both eclectic and precise.

Ellen speaking as Member of the Day, Toronto Heliconian Club, Sep. 21, 2010

Jane’s Walk, May 2, 2010 — St. James Town SEED Walk: Safe Engaged Environments – Disability

Ellen volunteering at Word on the Street, Sep. 28

volunteering, Word on the Street, Sep. 28, 2011

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