Saturday, 10 November 2012

Teachers - the unsung heroes

Teachers - the unsung heroes
10 November 2012

Teachers – some of the most special people in the whole world.  They dedicate their lives to educating eager young minds.  They can mould them and bend them to reach open wide.  And as a small child, a teacher is near God.  All-powerful, all-knowing and on a pedestal up high. 

My kids have all had awesome teachers, right the way through.  All three of them did either Toptots or Moms and Tots when they were just little babies.  From there they “graduated” to two years at Chatterbox – the most special and precious little school in the whole world.  My kids were so very happy there.  A small intimate group of three and four years olds.  They each only went for a few hours a few mornings a week.  Not every day as I liked to keep some us time too.  Auntie Angie and Auntie Margie became a part of our extended families and I still keep in contact with them.  We all have lovely memories of fabulous times there.  They did Founder’s Day tea every year to celebrate the school’s birthday.  Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day tea.  A Wheel Rally and a Fun Day – so very, very exciting for the kids.  An end of year little nativity style play, followed by a visit from Father Christmas – not to deliver presents, but rather to give them a small little treat.  This also afforded the children the opportunity to present Father Christmas with their wish list for Christmas.  One year, all Amber wanted on her list was a proper handbag – so that she could look like a lady.  At Chatterbox, my kids got daily hugs and cuddles from their teachers.

And then from Chatterbox, we went on to Happy Days – yet another home from home.  And once again, each of my kids did a two year stretch.  And at the end of our six year stint, it was terribly sad to say goodbye.  They nurtured my kids and helped them along the way, preparing them for big school in just the right way.  They gained a bit more independence in Happy Days compared to Chatterbox, and rightly so, as they were just that wee little bit bigger and big school was right around the corner.  Also loads of fun events and activities throughout the year.  An annual trip to Strand Beach via the train, a real highlight for all.  Snake shows, puppet shows, dog shows and more.  Termly cake sales, massive end of year concert as well as the multitude other little things in a normal year.  At Happy Days my kids also got hugs and cuddles, from teachers and their assistants.

And all of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, all of my chickens were in big school – Beaumont.  And how special that was.  I had spent the majority of my Primary School years there – some of the same teachers are still there from when I was in school!  We had one golden year last year.  Just one year, were I had all of my kids in the same school.  A single drop off spot at the same time every morning was marvellous.  And though they all finished school at different times with sport, etc. it was still one spot.  I find it hard to believe that Luke is in high school now.  And I’m sure it will feel like a very short while before he jets off to Varsity or College, or wherever he will venture for his further studies.  Because further studies there will be.  I have no intention of letting my kids fall in the whole “gap year” trap.  I think it’s best to just knuckle down and start studying straight out of school.  When they’re still in the zone and haven’t had a proper taste of “freedom” and the joys of earning a proper income.  Because giving up monthly earnings, to further your education, once you’re used to those bucks is surely a very, very hard thing to do.

My kids have all idolised their teachers.  And as their teachers have gained popularity, so mine waned in direct proportion.  “Mommy, Mrs Viljoen said…..” or “Mrs Coulson…….”.  For years and years everything was “Aunty Angie this” and “Aunty Margie that”.  Mrs Martin was all powerful and the most wise and clever person on earth.  This is so sweet to see.  And is exactly as it should be.  Because when you’re little, you should adore your teacher like this.  But then again, only if you’re very, very lucky and have been blessed with a fabulous teacher.  They can guide, educate, cuddle, love, teach life lessons, have fun, encourage learning, have a positive life-long influence, create magic, create a love for knowledge and so the list goes on.  I have been extremely fortunate to have all of my kids at the same Grade 2 teacher in Beaumont – Carol Viljoen.  She is absolutely incredible and is loved by many.  Her husband says that going out with her, even to the Mall, is a bit like being married to a celebrity – they get stopped, greeted and hugged by children all the time.  And their families too. 

But sadly, there is the odd bad apple in the bunch.  I’ve also been the recipient of this.  Some teachers are not fun at all.  They enjoy their position of power too much.  They can crush little spirits and break them down.  They can pick on a kid and embarrass them.  They can be hurtful and even mean.  Sadly, these are adults.  And they should know better.  But I suppose they’re just human too.

For some or other reason, music teachers are often quite intense, the meanest of all and are prone to outbursts of bad temper.  Funny enough though, I realised that my piano teachers were most annoyed with me, when I was nervous as I knew deep down that I had not practised enough and was ill prepared for a lesson.  My lack of effort and practice, was normally directly related to their mood.  Still they are creative people and we all know that creative people can be quite volatile.  It is however unrealistic to expect a little kid to display the maturity and skill with an instrument that they have after years and years of experience.  The piano teacher that evoked the most feelings of fear in me (I was scared spit-less of him), is still a piano teacher at Beaumont.  Even now, as a 39 year old, my stomach turns when I see him.  I lower my head and avoid eye contact – sure he’ll be able to see the shame of my bad piano skills.  If I walk down the passage at Beaumont and I walk past his music room, I break out in a cold sweat and clench all of my muscles.  Even from outside, I can smell the room – it still smells the same.  It makes me feel about 11 years old once more – knowing I don’t know my scales probably.  Also knowing that he’ll probably be in a bad mood before I even walk into his classroom – as surely some other kid had just annoyed him as well.  I think the later in the day your lesson was, the worse it was.  Sort of a collective annoyance that grew through the day – only to be taken out in its most harshest form on the poor sod who had the last lesson of the day.  

As a teenager, Luke is obviously disillusioned with teachers in general.  And this is also fine.  You’re not really supposed to like all your teachers I suppose, especially at that age.  They represent work, discipline, homework and often boredom in class.  But even at 14, there is the odd gem.  A teacher Luke deems to be cool.  And for this I am grateful.

My littlies, still love their teachers and are completely enamoured of them.  For Amber this will probably end soon.  As the workload increases and her hormones start kicking in.  But for now, I would like to say a huge big THANK YOU to the awesome teachers that have guided my kids.  You have all played a very important role in our family.  Your influence has extended far beyond my children’s time in your classes.  You have taught us all lots and enriched our lives.

And for one of my gems, Juffrou Annemarie, I would like to say thank you to you.  You taught me a love of the piano that has remained with me to this day.  You weren’t my best piano teacher, or even my most talented.  But you were the kindest by far.  You opened up your home and your heart to me.  Even after we moved away from Clanwilliam, I still often went and spent holidays with you and stayed with you.  And I loved you will all of my 10 year old little heart.

I have been blessed that my own children have also had some awesome teachers.  Thank you to you.  You have meant so much to all of us and we cherish the time we had in your care.
Amber having fun in the little wendy house at Chatterbox, on her orientation day
Luke and Amber doing brisk trade at Chatterbox
Auntie Angie and Amber
Amber and Auntie Margie
Cole with Sonja at Moms and Tots - she also became a very good friend
More Chatterbox love
Cole with Auntie Angie and Auntie Margie
This year the theme for World Teacher's Day was "My Teacher - My Hero", so we asked all of the kids in Cole's class to a draw a picture of Mrs Viljoen sporting a superhero outfit and to staple a Lotto ticket onto their picture for her - as a little surprise.  Cole called his superhero "Super Viljoen".  She wears a robot red uniform with a big V on her chest, a red cape with her logo "Super Viljoen" and a pair of killer heels - check out the shoes.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely stunning story of appreciation and love and growth and LOVE the photo's. Your kids really have been incredibly lucky to have teachers who care so openly. Amazing angels teachers are! xxxxxx