Linda Cook, CEO of the Edmonton Public Library, has had an exciting year. Earlier this year she received the 2014 Canadian Library Association (CLA) Outstanding Service to Leadership Award and the 2014 CLA Outstanding Service to Librarianship Award, and just recently, Edmonton Public Library was named the Best Library of the Year by Library Journal magazine.
Cook grew up in Alberta and attended Hazeldean Elementary in the Edmonton public school system. “There was no French immersion back then,” she reminisced. “I was first introduced to French in Grade 5.” She said her French teacher stands out in her mind because “she introduced French in a fun way. It was so long ago, and I don’t think I ever knew her first name. I just knew her as Mrs. Poulet” said Cook, chuckling. “All of the kids behaved in that class and Mrs. Poulet was kind and gentle. Because we liked her, we automatically listened … you know how kids can be,” Cook added.
Mrs. Poulet gave the class a French vocabulary project where the students had to translate French words into common English and write them in fun ways to present to the class. As a child, Cook was very shy and quiet; presenting to the class wasn’t something she would normally like to do, but she was excited about the project. Cook and a friend made huge posters that were so big her parents had to carry them into the school for them. “Mrs. Poulet was amazed, and she was effusive in her praise,” said Cook smiling, “She gave us an A++, the highest mark we could get!” The first word Cook chose to present to the class was, of course, chicken.
One other teacher that stands out in Cook’s mind is Mr. Ramsay, her homeroom teacher in Grade 4. “He was the first male teacher I ever had,” Cook recalled. “He was one of those teachers that was everybody’s friend.” Hazeldean wasn’t equipped with enough lockers for each student, so Cook had to share her locker with another student named Linda. That was the year she met her best friend. They have stayed friends over the years, and although the other Linda lives in Toronto, they see each other about five times a year. “We will always be grateful to Mr. Ramsay for introducing us.”