I have very vague memories of my first day at school. I do remember a sense of confusion and wondering what it was all about. I’m sure it was explained to me beforehand that I was going to a place called school and I would stay there for a few hours before coming home again but I honestly don’t remember that. Hence the bewilderment when I got there.
My first teacher is retired now and I often want to tell her she was the person responsible for showing me how to decipher those weird, squiggly hieroglyphics into proper words that made brilliant, exciting sense.
My next teacher was a tiny nun who spoke so quietly I found it difficult to understand her. Especially the day she hit me on the hand with one of those old fashioned butter paddles. I still have no idea why.
When I made my First Holy Communion my teacher was a dark haired lady called Miss Lundy. She would set me extra homework each evening with some picture cards. I had to write the story according to what was happening in each scene. I loved it.
In second class I had two teachers. My “real” teacher was heavily involved with music and spent most of her time teaching it. The stand in nun had us learn off ridiculous and pointless religious paragraphs and then she would test us on it. We didn’t do anything else.
I remember each and every one of my primary school teachers and one or two from secondary school. Each and every one of them made an impact on me in some shape or form. Some good, some bad, some indifferent.
Now I am sending my own kids to school. Into the hands of people who will teach them things I cannot and possibly by means I won’t necessarily agree with.
I have no bad stories to tell of my time in school. I enjoyed primary tremendously whereas secondary came as a bit of a shock to me and pretty soon I learned that if I kept my head down and didn’t draw attention to myself, I would be ignored. By the teachers.
This effectively meant that when I struggled with things, it went unnoticed and I was very much the type of person who liked to stick her head in the sand hoping it would all go away if I didn’t think about it.
I consider my kids to be fortunate to go to school in an age where this doesn’t have to be the case anymore.
One of our boys didn’t settle into school as seamlessly as his brothers. He struggled for a while and in turn, I did too, wondering how to help him.
Thanks to the fantastic help, forward thinking and pro-active steps of not one but two teachers, our boy is on top of things now and much happier as a result.
Last week my phone pinged with the usual reminder text that school is back. There was an additional piece of information included. One of those teachers, the school principal, had resigned.
This lady was with the school when it started out with just 21 children in 2004 using a prefabricated building as their place of education. In 2007 she saw it granted permanent recognition from the Department of Education and Science. She was there in 2009 when the students moved into the new school where it has continued to develop and grow.
I can only hope that our boys’ education continues to be as positive as it has been so far, they are surrounded by people outside of family who care about their emotional and social development believing this is just as important as academia.
Múinteoir Sinead, go n-éiri an bother leat. You will be missed.