Who would have thought as this year unfolds, Zoom would still be a manner in which to stay connected?! But here we are, thankfully it does mean that we can have these conversations. It was such a treat to hear from one of our own Board members who has taken on several different roles in her life. Her story begins in Copenhagen, Denmark and quite by chance, her father decided to move the family and begin anew in Hamilton, Ontario.

Dorte was just 6 years old when her father decided the family, which included her mother and older sister, would leave Copenhagen, Denmark and move to Canada, specifically Montreal. He worked in the import/export business and wanted to set up a business of importing Danish modern furniture to the city.  Unfortunately, this did not work out as well as he hoped and so he thought it best to move somewhere else. Legend has it that he placed a map of Canada on the dining room table, closed his eyes, moved his hand in a circle and when he touched the map with his finger, underneath was the name of the city, Hamilton.  This was how their new home was chosen.

Neither Dorte or her sister spoke English when they came to Canada, learning to speak and understand it by spending time with other children on the playground. As she grew up her life was surrounded by beautiful things such as the Danish furniture from her father’s store to the pottery her mother created.  Her parents were also interested in interior design and all these influences aroused Dorte’s interest in art.  After she graduated from McMaster with a degree in Art History & Studio Work, she worked at the Beckett Fine Art Gallery originally on James St.  Although she loved being around the artwork, selling art was not her passion but she also knew that making a living as an artist could be very difficult. Dorte returned to school to obtain her Teacher’s Degree and soon after was hired to teach art at Sir John A. MacDonald High School.  In this special arts program of ceramics and textiles, Dorte found her groove and had such fun working with her students. Over time, her career progressed, and she found herself working as the Vice Principal at Scott Park High School.  For 10 years Dorte worked directly with troubled teens but found it immensely rewarding, helping to guide and support them on a better pathway. She has very fond memories of this time, and this desire to help others is what led her to the Hamilton Literacy Council after she retired.

Dorte began her journey with us as a tutor. Using the strategies of our program and resources, both she and her most recent student were so pleased that her student learned to read, especially since she barely knew the alphabet in the beginning. Dorte explained that the most challenging element at times is getting the adult student to realize that their involvement, their effort will make a difference in their progress; the tutor is a conduit but not the quick fix. The best part of tutoring has been seeing her students’ self-esteem increase as they develop these new skills.

Throughout Dorte’s life she has also been a writer and she shared that her most recent endeavour is a fictional book for middle school children.  It’s a story of ancient art history that covers six continents and the Middle East.  It’s a way to open the door for discussions about art, it’s effect on people and the different ways people make it.  Stay tuned as we follow Dorte’s progress on the road to having it published once it’s complete.  We look forward to the opportunity to read it and wish her great success!

You may have seen or heard this before – rapid questions asked of celebrities. Dorte is our celebrity today and she graciously answered 30 questions to help us get to know her a little better.

Most interesting historical person – Nelson Mandela

Favourite actor or actress – Judi Dench

Favourite flower or plant – Hibiscus

Series that you have been watching on Netflix – Danish crime/mystery show

Female you most admire, alive or dead – Mother Teresa

Coffee or tea – Both, coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon

Are you a morning or night person – morning person

Favourite past time – Writing

Do you collect anything and if so what – Non-objective modern art

What was your favourite subject in school – Languages

Do you speak another language – yes, Danish

Do you have any phobias – Centipedes!

Do you like to travel – Yes

The best place you have ever visited – South Africa

The place you most want to visit – Egypt

Do you have a family pet and what is their name – A cat called Lily

Name of the book that either made you laugh out loud or cry – A thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

What is your favourite childhood book – Winnie The Pooh

Most interesting biography you’ve read – Nelson Mandela

Favourite type of music – Jazz, the pianist, Dave Brubeck

Which music group makes you want to start singing along – The Beatles

Do you play a musical instrument – No

Do you have a recipe you like to make – Chili

What is your favourite food – Going out for breakfast for bacon & eggs

Snacks, sweet or salty – Salty

Do you drink wine, if so, white or red – Prefer red wine

If you hadn’t been a teacher, is there another career path you might have liked to try – Fashion Designer

Do you use TikTok or Instagram – No

Which do you prefer, sunsets, sunrises or rainbows – Sunrises

What do you most look forward to doing once we are out of this pandemic – going out with friends and going to the gym