Awarding-winning jazz singer Diana Panton, OCT, shares how her education nurtured her work ethic and love of the arts.
By Laura Bickle
Photo: Jo Dickins
Name: Diana Panton, OCT
Describe yourself in elementary school.
Creative, unique, unusual.
Describe yourself in high school.
Active, diverse, independent.
What was your favourite subject?
French. I always felt that it was an honour and a privilege to study another language at school.
Favourite literary pieces studied?
Cyrano de Bergerac, Romeo and Juliet and Manon des Sources.
Who are your favourite writers?
Pablo Neruda and Maryse Condé.
What books are you reading?
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and Quiet by Susan Cain.
As a student, what career path did you dream of following?
What do you wish you had been taught in school but weren’t?
Textile design in art.
Favourite way to spend recess?
Playing kickball with my classmates or performing rescue missions with a small group of friends, which involved pulling someone up the slide. Otherwise, I liked to sit quietly in a green corner of the playground and reflect.
Favourite school lunch?
Swapping my friend for her Kraft peanut butter sandwiches, which I didn’t get at home.
Lesson learned in kindergarten that still applies today?
How to spell my name.
What areas did you tend to excel at in school?
Verbal and artistic skills.
Favourite era to attend school in?
I would probably like to go to school now; there are so many interesting and diverse classes to choose from that weren’t around when I attended.
If you could create a new course, what would you choose?
I think nutrition and financial planning should be mandatory for all students. A course in organization and test preparation wouldn’t hurt either.
Do you recall what ignited your passion for music?
As of six years old, I would walk home from the bus stop. It was during those solo walks that I would start to sing songs about nature that I made up on the spot.
Quality you appreciated in a teacher?
Best advice given at school?
Do what you love.
What did your schooling best prepare you for in life?
How to juggle many hats, organize my time, prioritize tasks, how to put forth my best effort and how to work as a team.
How did your schooling shape your teaching philosophy?
I was always told that the arts were fine as a hobby but not as a career. I try to stress to my students that the arts are not merely elective courses, with no job pathways. They can provide fulfilling careers.