Zanne Handley: In a Class All Her Own!

When I was a video-store rat many years ago, I use to serve this adorable couple, Zanne and Ian. They were always smiling, and Zanne had the most incredible set of dreadlocks I’d ever seen. We talked movies, art, literature, politics, current events and even fun stuff like cartoons and food. I’ve recently become reacquainted with them, and I’d like you meet Zanne Handley.

Zanne is the French and Social Studies teacher at Bridgetown Regional High School, as well as Advisor for the Gay-Straight Alliance at BRHS. She loves all aspects of her job, but those lunch-hour conversations with students take the cake because “no one is officially teaching but everyone is learning.”

Outside of work, Zanne loves to write. She writes to keep herself company, to rant, to explore her beliefs and values, to sort through her conflicts, and tell the stories that fire her imagination. Writing is the way she makes sense of her world. And what a world it is! Zanne is one of the smartest, most headstrong, independent-thinking people I know. She is the kind of persistent, worldly, feminist woman I’d want to be if I weren’t already a persistent, worldly, feminist man.

Zanne’s passion for writing led to the publication of her first novel, Pilgrimage. She is giving a reading/signing at Box of Delights in Wolfville on June 29. Stop by the bookstore to meet this wonderful woman and pick up her novel. It’s a fantastic read!

This novel and Zanne’s own conversion to Islam are connected. She had an idea for a book with a Muslim character and started learning as much as she could about Islam. Somewhere in the middle of her research, she realized, “This is what you’ve been seeking, Zanne! This faith is for you.” Zanne says, “I feel in many ways that this book came through me rather than coming from me, and I believe my duty as a writer is, as Julia Cameron puts it, ‘to show up at the page’. If I show up with humility and willingness, open to the process of creating, then in a sense what chooses to be written is none of my business.”

Zanne grew up all over Canada, with some time in Europe. She majored in History at Acadia and stayed there for her Education degree. Within a week of being at Acadia she met her husband, Ian, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Zanne and Ian have a beautiful five-year-old princess named Zofya and a newborn prince of just 6 weeks named Taymor, plus sheep, a horse, chickens, barn cats and a big white dog. Zanne and Ian have been together for nearly 10 years and she’s as madly in love with him today as she was when they first got together. Their love is quite infectious!

Zanne loves this area: the friendliness, the sense of community and people’s willingness to lend a hand. “That came out quite strongly with writing Pilgrimage: my husband designed the cover; my friend Kate hosted the initial book launch; an English teacher I love and respect, Maryanne MacNeil, suggested a title; Acadia prof Hassouna Moussa did a ton of translation for me . . . Not to mention all my friends who have read, commented, suggested and encouraged throughout the whole process. There is no way I could have done all this by myself, and I think that’s a huge part of living in the Valley.”

Congratulations on your accomplishments with your writing, your family and the inspiration you give to so many students and friends with your wisdom. You are a true teacher and teachers make all things possible. Best of luck with your work, Zanne!


~ Mike Butler