A long time ago now, back in one of my previous incarnations – you know, when I was a Year Six teacher at the very best international school – Quarry Bay School in Hong Kong – I recall loving my job. That was, in part at least, because I was well remunerated and also because I worked with wonderful, creative people who were simply a joy to be with. Many of my colleagues remain close friends with me, even though we rarely, if ever, see each other, face-to-face each day any more. Social networks and increasingly mobile technology facilitate the maintenance of friendships so much more easily than simple letters used to do – I cannot recall the last time I wrote or received a proper letter and I’ll bet you’d have to wrack your brains for the same (your letter-writing habits, not mine because that would be madness!). I treasure their continued friendships beyond reckoning.
One of the by-the-way benefits of social networks is that we also get to keep in touch with many past students. Not every child that I have taught is keen to share their growing pains, as they transition into adulthood, but there are a surprising number of my Facebook Friends who are children that I once taught when they were knee-high-to-a-grasshopper.
‘How old was that then?’ I hear you asking.And yes, that is because supersonic hearing is not a talent one dispenses with once one leaves the classroom behind – I still have it! Given that I taught at QBS for almost 12 years and taught in every age group except for the Year 1’s and 4’s (I did one term in Reception) it could be anything from age five to eleven. But my final four years were with the ten-eleven year olds, so most of them may even remember a little about being in my class.
One of the very best things about teaching in Year Six at that time was the end-of-year/end-of-Primary-School-careers productions that we used to put on. I loved everything about them; learning the songs, learning the dance routines, getting all the costumes organised, practicing all the little bits and then putting them all together, usually just before the Gala Performance. They were a great deal of hard work, but a lot of fun too and probably the best thing of all about them was the sense of team-spirit that they engendered. Staff always pulled together of course, but the children always surprised themselves with how much they could achieve when they worked together in the big ‘team’.
The reason I’m reminiscing like this is because I came across a photo of my first year six production in 2001, ‘Pandemonium’ – a tale of chaotic happenings amongst the Greek gods and the effect upon mere mortals when Pandora opened the box. It was memorable for many reasons, not least of which was the finale, where Hope was given to Man, to restore some of the damage done by the release of those potentially damaging evils that had been hitherto locked safely into Pandora’s Box. On that occasion, we were all delighted that one of our students who had been stricken with a life-threatening disease had made sufficient recovery to be our Hope; it was a moment that touched everyone present, one I shall always remember. I realise that there are several of my (then) young charges (Keira McCosh, Thomas Latter, Keith Chenoweth and Anastasia Stitch among them I suspect) who may well be cringing at the publication of this picture, but there are more embarrassing things in life than photos of you aged ten or eleven, dressed as Greek gods & goddesses, surely? It’s always fun to look back at our younger selves, especially on Throwback Thursdays eh? (I’m looking forward to receiving some interesting responses here!).
Not fifteen minutes after I found this picture, I was delighted to be sent a link to this superbly written article by another ex-pupil of mine, Aneri Shah. She was one of the reporters in the following year’s Y6 production ‘Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?’ – loosely based on the computer game with a character of the same name, which our esteemed department head (Dave Smith) created a fantastic, hour-long story from, connecting locations as far apart as Cordoba in Spain, to Shanghai in China, via Buenos Aires in Argentina and New York in the USA. Our roving reporters included Aneri, whose job it was to keep the audience informed of the whereabouts of the elusive Ms Diego, in the hopes that she could be located before some dreadful ‘baddies’ managed to blow up the entire Earth, thereby saving Mankind from certain annihilation. It was a superb production, with all the usual characteristics, some fantastic performances and a not-too-shabby special effect of an exploding satellite to boot, which rather surprised the cast as much as the audience the first time I managed to pull it off – it wasn’t ready by the final dress rehearsal!
It is fantastic to keep in touch with students from years past – I love hearing about how they are getting on, making their mark upon the world too. I am delighted to promote Aneri’s article, not just because she’s an ex-pupil of mine, not just because she writes so eloquently, not even because what she has to say is really, really important to many people, although those are all really good reasons. I am promoting it because it makes me happy. It gives me just a soupçon of satisfaction to think that a former student is stamping her vital impression in this world. I’m so proud of her, well done Aneri!
Thanks for reading, once again my friends!