As a teacher there are certain students who touch your life more than you could ever possibly realise. P and D are two such students.
Both were in some of my very first classes as a newly qualified teacher. P was quite shy and socially a little awkward, but she worked hard and was a high achiever despite dealing with the fact that her mother was dying from breast cancer. D was visually impaired but was often the saving grace in many lessons because of his positive attitude and high spirits, despite finding it difficult in a mainstream school. If I’m being honest, neither of them had an easy time at school from the other students – children can be incredibly cruel. However, they never let any harsh comments or criticism affect their self-confidence and their studies.
Over the years I watched these two grow and develop into wonderful young adults. D was an enthusiastic member of my performing arts and music classes, performing several times in front of his peers. I started teaching P the piano and she discovered that she was naturally musical.
In the year before I left the school, both had to deal with enormously cruel trials and tribulations of life. P’s mother passed away when P was just 15 years old and D was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 16. I visited D after he had started chemotherapy and was so proud of him for his ability to look on the positive side of things. P worked hard during her exams and did very well, continuing her studies into sixth form.
Over the last few years we’ve become close. I no longer teach either of them in school but we keep in touch through texts and Facebook and I still teach P the piano occasionally, workload permitting. When I left the school, I told P that I would take her out for cocktails for her 18th birthday. P and I did the Race For Life together last year while D watched, being too ill to participate. D texts me a lot to let me know how he’s doing and I was delighted to see him on TV not long ago as part of a documentary about the NHS.
Earlier this year, The Bloke and I attended D’s 18th birthday party, which was packed with his family and friends. As promised, on P’s birthday a few weeks ago I took her and D for cocktails at my favourite restaurant, where we had a great time, particularly watching D consume his entire bodyweight in chicken wings and P attempting to balance in her fabulous but ridiculously high shoes.
They’re currently doing extremely well for themsleves. D has fought hard against his illness and is in remission. He starts college in a few weeks where he is planning to continue his performance studies and regularly holds fund-raising events to raise money for Cancer Research. P helps out at her church regularly, where her father is the vicar. She has passed her A-Levels and has been given an unconditional offer to her first choice university, where she will be studying theology. What strikes me most about both of them is how happy they are. Yes, they both have their down days, but they pick themselves back up again and make me laugh with their thoughts and musings on life.
These two young people are an inspiration. Both could easily have given up on their dreams and wallowed in self-pity. Both could have blamed everyone else for their adversities and become angry and bitter. Instead, they have grabbed life with both hands and made the absolute most of everything they possibly can.
Their stories and characters serve as superb role-models to the rest of us. On days where I am upset by things that are essentially insignificant in the big picture of life I am reminded that there are always others that are dealing with huge issues and still maintain positivity and goals. I’m proud of them both and the fact that I’ve been able to be a little part of their journeys. I know that they’re going to continue to be wonderful members of society. They remind me why I do the job in the first place.