I can do this myself!

Janett Sampson kept a promise to her father and in doing it she discovered a talent that may well become her new career. Right now, though, Janett’s working the night shift for ICS Couriers in Barrie. She sorts mail for the morning crew and makes a 3:30 am run to Toronto for deliveries for doctors and dentists. Her hourly pay runs around $8.15.

Sounds like a pretty ordinary life, doesn’t it?

Look again.

Three years ago Janet enrolled for night classes at the Barrie Learning Centre (run by the Simcoe Board of Education and located in the Bayfield Mall) to take the four credits she needed to earn her high school diploma. She had promised her dad that she’d do this and at age 49 she made the first steps to keep her promise.

Her first course was English and her teacher Nancy Ricci was under contract to teach her first night courses at the Learning Centre. These classes were something new for both of them. When Janett balked at a writing assignment that Nancy handed out, the teacher suggested that if she was uncomfortable writing about a strange topic, she should tackle an essay on something she knew about.

Janett knew about bears. They were her passion in her life. “I’ve always liked bears… they’re one of the most beautiful animals. When I was little they scared me, but as I got older I looked into their faces and they seem so secure and warm.” Janett wrote about bears and at the bottom of her paper, Nancy Ricci commented… “you write from the heart, which is very hard to do.”

That was enough for Janett. She used what she was learning from her computer teacher, Maryann Hefky and took up a challenge from teacher Bill Eby and started to work on the text for a book. Though she has no children of her own, Janett had always wanted to write a children’s story about bears. Her Learning Centre teachers suggested she stop talking about it and just do it.

So she did.

One night after class she was there, working at a keyboard when Henriette Greeley started dusting around her. Henriette is the night cleaner at the Barrie Learning Centre and does it first before she moves on to other schools. The two started talking, and Janett shared her goal of writing a book. “I can’t even draw a straight line,” she moaned, when she started to discuss the illustration portion of the book.

“I can,” said Henriette and on the spot was born a partnership that is now depicted in the first book to come from Janett Sampson’s key board.

Called Janett and the Forest Creature, it’s a four-colour nicely bound book that tells a colourful story about an abandoned bear and a little girl and their desire to live together. And Henriette’s pictures bring the piece alive.

Once finished, the artist and the writer had a big decision to make… do they wait a couple of years to sit through the rejection process from major publishers, or do they just bite the bullet and do it themselves?

Well, Rose Printing in Orillia took on the job, and Janett invested $4,500 of her own money (money slated to replace her delapidated car) and printed 1,000 copies of her book. It came out this week. Of course, people at the Learning Centre are keen to have their own copies. And Janet and Henriette are distributing them to friends and family who live in other communities who are helping to sell them at $6 each (which includes PST and GST).

It’s a bargain in the world of children’s books and Janett plans to visit doctors offices, waiting rooms, libraries and book stores to see if she can muster up sales. She and Henriette have agreed to split the profits (which will be $1500 when all books are sold) in a 65/35 arrangement.

Janett is thrilled with the results. Not only did she keep a promise to her dad when she graduated last June, but she gave herself a graduation present…her own book.

As she looks back at her two years of night courses at the Barrie Learning Centre, Janett credits much of her courage to her teachers. “Jeane Wilson, who taught me personal life management, encouraged me to set a goal and go for it. “You’re a winner because you tried,” she said. After that things seemed to fall in place.

Janett represents for all of us the opportunity to look ahead, set a goal, and work towards it. Her book is testimony today to the ability to meet goals that seem insurmountable at first. You can buy Janett’s book by calling her at 737-5601. She’ll put your name and phone number on a list and fulfill the orders.