It's in the people who walked ahead in my journey, shining the light so I could see where I was going. My teachers.
I had my robes sent up so I could graduate in our
home town. My J took this photo, it was the day
we announced our engagement.
I learned that a lady can have grace and style even with a greying bun from Mrs H my French teacher. She always wore beautiful clothes and stockings on her tall, willowy frame. She was obviously very intelligent, well-travelled and while very strict she had kind eyes. Even though it was clear she didn't spend any time pampering herself in the hair and makeup department, she always looked a picture of class. Of course, living in a small country town, I also caught the odd glimpse of her in her downtime - in gardening clothes or in civvies with her son. But she turned on that air of grace and style for us rowdy teenagers every single day without fail.
My caregroup (homeroom) teacher was Miss B. She was the opposite of Mrs H. Always beautifully coiffed, but more compact. She was someone even those of us who were vertically challenged could talk with, eye to eye. Even though (at that stage) she had no children of her own, she was so very motherly. Even though she was often surrounded by lunatics and bad tempers, she was always so sweet, always listening with a gentle smile. Her words of encouragement went a really long way.
And while there were many other teachers who left an indelible mark on my life and character, my third greatest influence was my mentor teacher as a prac student - J. She looked more like a mad scientist than teacher. She had paint on her clothes and told stories of capturing lost chicken in her backyard. She taught me to help others to see the world. To open the pages of history books to fun and excitement. She showed me that on the inside, all small humans really want to do is learn.
I often think of these gorgeous ladies as I put on my teaching 'costume' - dresses, sensible shoes and stockings and head out to my day job. I think of them as I thank small people for their generous gift of a weed or a rock. I try to channel their patience as I hear my exuberant students tell me their stories or ask for my help. I try to remember that teachers can inspire and guide in more than just the three Rs.
I want to be, for someone else, who they were to me.
** I completely self-supported myself through two degrees between the ages of 17 and 21. There was a bit of a crazy overlap where I did two years simultaneously!!! Ugh. Eight subjects and work. I shudder at the thought. It's all just a blur of books and loans and bars and tips and broken down cars and customer service roles in supermarkets.
Why?! Well, I'm a bit hyperactive, I dream big and figure I'll work out the fine details along the way (the kids have almost broken me of that one)... and basically I needed the money. I knew I couldn't survive on two minute noodles and paying the minimum on my credit card every month forever.
It was a risk. I took it. I didn't fail due to sheer luck and determination and some lovely people who cheered me from the sidelines. I honestly think I owe it to my teachers, armed with their 'Girls Can Do Anything' stickers who made me believe it was all very possible. And because I believed I was going to make it, of course I did!