Submitted by Tina Giannopoulos
My high school music teacher, Doug Shippey, recognized a talent in me that has changed my life. I was a very shy, quiet student who had returned to Canada as a refugee from Cyprus in 1974. I began taking strings as a music option in grade 7 and immediately fell in love with the violin. From the very beginning, I would spend as much time as I could practicing. Within a year, I was good enough to join the highschool orchestra, despite being only in grade 8 at the time. By the time I entered grade 9, my music teacher knew that I needed to take private lessons. However, my parents couldn't afford it. So, rather than just let it go, he approached various organizations like the Lions Club and the Rotary Club for scholarships that would enable me to take lessons. I began in grade 10 and continued until the end of grade 13 at which time I auditioned and was accepted to three universities, despite only having started in to play in grade 7. Throughout highschool, Doug Shippey gave me opportunities to play not only in our highschool orchestra, but with my city's community orchestra, in musicals, and in festivals. I credit my love of music to him! And, the best part was a couple of years ago when he conducted a concert with the Stratford Symphony, an orchestra I currently play with, and we were able to reconnect! We hugged, we cried, and I was able to thank him once again for everything he had done for me. I wouldn't be where I am today and enjoy the happiness that my music brings me without his kindness at a critical time in my life.