As I journey through my fortieth year I want to take time to thank people who have had an impact on me and my life. Each person to whom I write has shaped me and is partly to ‘blame’ for the person I am becoming!!! This is my first letter to my first teacher.
Dear Mrs Cornett
(I’ve always remembered your name with two ‘T’s!)
I expect that most Year One teachers have an impact on the children in their care. And you did, on me. I simply want to say, “thank you for the interest you showed in our work and more importantly in each of us”.
My overwhelming memories of my first infant school are these:
- Riding on the back of my mother’s bike
- Not wanting to wear brown tights in the school play
- Eating my sandwiches in a corridor whilst something was happening in the dining hall
- The large hall window and equally largely patterned curtains
- And you.
I loved lining up in our class room to share my work with you. Your delight not only in what I had done but in me as a person has helped to shape my life and the way I continue to share my life with other people. Your style of receiving my friends and me was unique. I remember how two lines would form. One to the left, of your seemingly huge wooden chair, and one to the right. We would take it in turns to show you our achievements; one from the left, one from the right. Left. Right, left and so on. I remember my impatient anticipation building as I progressed closer and closer. And I remember the joy of knowing my turn was next.
I don’t remember your face. But I remember the way you would turn your whole body and whole presence in that chair. And in that moment I would become the only pupil in the class. Your full delight, attention and teaching would be mine as you absorbed the innocence and naivety of my work. I don’t remember your voice but I remember the feeling of acceptance and unconditional love. My work may have been littered with error or excellence, I do not remember, but I have never forgotten the importance of giving oneself fully to a conversation.
As I have grown in my love for people, I am thankful for that simple lesson you taught. It was not part of the curriculum and it was not taught with words. I’m sure I learned many things with you but the one that has shaped me most is, learning to listen well. In a world filled with noise and interruption I am thankful to you for demonstrating to a four-year old what it was to be undivided in attention. And I am grateful for the example of how to use my environment and my physicality to demonstrate ‘worth’ to other people. I hope, that as I share my time with others, I might greet them the same dignity you showed to me.
Thank you for being a part of my life.