I am walking proof that the care and encouragement of a special teacher can profoundly impact the path of a child. 40 years ago I met a person who helped me to believe that I had value.
40 years ago, a New Entrant teacher saw potential in a very shy, very unconfident child, who was surrounded by less than ideal family circumstances, and was struggling to see her significance in a world that lacked stability and consistency. That special teacher had no idea that her simple acts of kindness would see her through a transient journey of 10 primary schools by age 10, as she was passed between care-givers, while her unwell mother battled illness that no child should ever witness.
That child was me.
Putting up a piece of child’s art is nothing out of the ordinary, but my smile could have lit up a room as she asked me for permission to keep it up on the wall to show next year’s new 5 year olds.
Paying for a Term’s dance lessons was something extraordinary that this teacher did for me. It gave me something to look forward to at a time when there was very little money, and even less joy. I’m sure my mother’s humble gift to say thank you was something that teacher will also never forget.
Why have I shared this with you?
I want everyone to remember that teachers have a powerful opportunity to notice and nurture the interests and talents of all children who walk through their doors. They are sometimes privy to sensitive family information, and sometimes they aren’t aware of how critical they are to a young person’s belief about themselves and the world around them.
The message given to the child is that they do matter, and that people do care about them, no matter what is happening in their world.
The classroom is a busy place, but every now and then, a child will walk through the doors with needs far beyond curriculum achievement objectives. A teacher who notices can make all the difference.