I wrote this years ago and I hope you’ll pardon the poor grammar/punctuation.
Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of meeting with three graduating students of the TRU education program. They will be certified teachers by the end of the school year.. which you know may have already happened. The reason they wanted to meet with me was so that I could discuss my experience in elementary school/highschool as an aboriginal student.
When I was first asked last week I wasn’t sure what kind of help I could be as I never felt my experience growing up as a student was anything exceptional from those who went to school with me.. to be honest I hadn’t given it any thought.
After a nice ice breaking easy going conversation we got into the heart of the matter. I talked about my little boy crush on my grade 1 teacher Mrs. Porter because she would write on my school work things like “HOORAY!” and “YOU MAKE ME :)” My desire for attention and affection began then. I talked about having both strict and easy going teachers but I always had teachers who were willing to push me to do better work. I really appreciated them.
Teachers like Mr. Paul Kipp, he was my 5th grade teacher and vice principal. He was the first teacher who ever said to his class “if you ever need to talk to anyone please don’t hesitate to come and talk to me.”
Very early in my 5th grade year my brother tried to hang himself in our basement, he was only 13 years old and you know only recently have I realized how impactful that event was on my young life. I waited around after school and after much self pep talk I started walking back to the class room and he was walking out of the class. I stopped and asked him if I could talk to him for a few minutes.. and right away I started to well up with tears. I told him that I needed to talk to someone.. and I told him what happened and he was kind of shocked.. I missed a day of school.. and I remember him saying “what!? WHAT!? what happened?”
I really loved having him as a teacher and he pushed me to be better at my work and take my time and stop rushing my way through it just for the sake of being done. He taught me that sometimes the journey is half the fun. I was really glad to know him beyond an academic realm when I became friends with his daughter. Last year when I was taking this lame “coaching” class.. we were asked, as an icebreaker, to draw who was our best life coach and yep.. you guessed it.. at 27 I could only draw Mr. Kipp cept.. I suck at drawing and screwed up the eye so I had to give him glasses and I don’t remember him wearing glasses.
The second teacher I talked about was Mrs. Hyde. She was my third grade teacher and I remember how supportive she was of me growing up, she wanted me to not only be a good student, but also she was very keen on pushing the idea of being a good citizen. She was an older woman and she treated all of us very well. I know she had hard times with some of my classmates and she would let her frustration show but I always wanted her to like me. In 3rd Grade I received from our principal a citizenship award during an assembly. I was in the bathroom and as I walked into the gymnasium everyone was looking at me and I didn’t know why and then he called my name again “Joey Jack, grade 3 Mrs. Hyde”
My name was written in his “book” and I received a silver dollar from him.
How proud was I?!!?!?
At the end of the school year Mrs. Hyde called my house and asked my mom to send me back to school and she had something for me.
I arrived in the school and went to our class room and she handed me a little ziplock bag and asked me to open it. When I did I saw a hand made snowflake with her very distinct writing. She wrote on it that I was special and God Bless me always .
Love From Mrs. Hyde.
She included another silver dollar for me.
When I was telling these girls this story it brought back such a flood of memories. I started to cry. My word I was so upset hahah I don’t even know why. I suppose it was at that moment that I really liked school so much because it was always a good way to escape what was going on at home. I have nothing but respect for every teacher I have ever had. Each one of them treated me with dignity and respect and many of them took the extra time to give me extra support. They could see I was teased by my school mates and would make sure that I was smiling and knew that I was indeed very special.
This diatribe was more for me.. than for you.