The writing maven is the author of 21 novels for young adults, one of which is nonfiction. Four more of her books will be released in 2018-19, including her first picture book and a series for middle-grade readers.
Despite this busy workload, Polak has a day job as an English and Humanities professor at Marianopolis College in Montreal.
Polak recalls that, as a child, she began honing her teaching skills in her basement. “I taught all the neighbourhood kids and their stuffed animals,” she says. “The classes largely consisted of me taking attendance.”
She continued on that path. After earning her BA from McGill University, Polak landed a job as a teaching assistant. “It was my first real teaching job and I fell in love with teaching,” she says.
This led to a part-time position at Concordia as an English composition instructor, which she did for more than a decade.
She credits her teaching style to the late Michael Brian, one of the professors Polak had while pursuing her master’s degree in English literature at Concordia. “We learned and we laughed. I knew that’s what I had to do, too, because it was never painful. He really influenced how I teach,” says Polak.