To follow the story from the beginning, click here.

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Only photo I had in London with me in my uniform. And yes, Sarah and I do have side ponytails. And yes, we were born in the 80’s.

School’s out for the summer.

The teaching world breathe a sigh of relief as they put their marking to one side, give their classrooms a clear and embrace some well deserved time off. Yeh, yeh – we all give teachers a hard time for their super long holidays. But come on now, if you had a class of 34 children to calm, control and educate every day for weeks on end, then wouldn’t you need one? Exactly. And they don’t just leave on the bell at 3pm. With a Mother, Father and Sister responsible for educating and moulding the minds of the next generation – I have seen first hand just how much goes into it. As London suddenly fills with children on their summer hols, I started to reflect on my school days……..

I used to get über excited the week before school started again. I’d look sharp (if only for the first day) with the fresh jumper and shiny new shoes. Clarks shoes with the key on the bottom sole, of course.  They rocked, didn’t they?!  I would beg for the trip to Staples to buy a brand new pencil-case and a shed load of stationary that I might need. Forget iPhones, those eraser pens blew my mind (as long as you didn’t smudge it – so messy. New page!). I would love starting a new work notebook, making sure my writing was as neat as possible. I thought it was great how your name was sewn into every item of uniform. This was soon to be replaced with yet another magic pen. No way.

I’d put my scrunchie in my hair, neaten my tie, throw my rucksack on both shoulders and would head to school with a smile on my face. What. A. Geek.

I remember the excitement of finding out which friends were going to be in your class. I mean this was crucial to your year. You’d sob when you found out your best friend was in a different one, but soon get over it and meet them in the playground to play hopscotch (i know) at break time. So fickle. After school clubs….errr try and stop me. I don’t care if rounders is on the same night as tennis – I will do both somehow. I will do it all!

SCHOOL TRIPS. Oh man, I could barely sleep the night before. You’d try to work it so that you could sit near to the boy you fancied on the coach. Of course this was the boy that you fancied on that particular week. It would be different by the next. You’d get your packed lunch out and pray that your Mum didn’t give you egg sarnies. Please NO. I mean, no one wanted to be the kid with egg sandwiches.

I was never taught by my Mother at school, but having her as a teacher in life – I imagine she was pretty darn good. (That is not me saying that I am good at life, by the way. I’ve got a very long way to go!). She was fiercely passionate about her job. She didn’t just go in, get it done and leave. My Mum cared.

At Mum’s funeral I had managed to hold it together reasonably well. That was all the way up until we were walking out of the church when I noticed the sea of school uniforms. Allenbourn Middle had been given permission to close for the day so that children, teachers and parents could visit Wimborne Minster and say their goodbyes. We were truly touched.

Clare is one of my oldest friends and someone who knew my Mum very well. We were at the same dance school and played tennis together for years, including a trip to France. Clare currently teaches in an International School in Brunei and is in England for a visit at the moment. It has been incredible catching up and I wish we could do it more.

[Please note: You will have noticed that many of my fantastic friends have moved abroad. I would like to think that this is because I am lucky enough to have brave companions with a great sense of adventure. Saying that, if any more leave the country I will start to take it personally!]

“Dear Rach,

When you asked the question on your blog “what or who inspires you” I thought it would be relatively easy to reply and then I sat and tried to write. Over the last month some quite serious pondering has occurred and I have become more and more frustrated with not being able to find an answer. 60 Postcards is a blog that flows with such ease, because you write from the heart. Then reading Katie’s and Rachel’s amazing posts about their inspirations, I actually started to feel lost in it all. The morning after reading your blog about friendship, I was deep in thought about inspirations at work when a girl walked past me in the corridor and said “Don’t worry, Miss, you’ll work it out” and smiled. That 12-year-old girl, Rita, just worked it out for me without even realising.

Much like your mum did, I adore teaching. It is everything to me and while I was out searching for the big things and amazing places to write about to you, little things were happening that were inspiring me more than any big revelation could. These have been the little inspirations that have made me very grateful. Rachael, without realising it you have sent me on a great journey the last month. These are my, insignificant to most people, yet inspirational highlights…

1)      The perseverance of all the exam students who have been fighting their own personal battles to succeed over the last few months in their exams. It’s amazing to see the tenacity kids have. They challenge me to keep them going, to keep pushing them to ensure they get the best they possibly can. I wonder how the world can’t be a better place in the future with the empathy these kids have.

2)      The team spirit showed by some of the girls I teach netball to has been amazing to watch develop this year. They made me so proud and kept us all going as their enthusiasm to learn and to achieve is inspirational. The courage they all showed when one of the girls dislocated and broke her elbow, (she’s got the sling on the photo), was amazing and the girl dealt with it all so calmly, despite being so scared. She inspired the other girls to keep playing and to try their best for each other and her.

3)      This week Brunei hosted the Asian Youth Netball Championship – a first for a country who is trying hard to develop its sport, especially for girls. The Brunei team have been an inspiration the last week as they have come so far over the last year and are giving the younger ones something to aim for. They take time to talk to the people who have supported them on their journey from school girls to representing their country.

4)      There are so many more little moments… Thanks you’s, smile, laughter that just make me realise that I am very lucky.

Picture 1 – Activities Day and out with the kids and your postcards – which they got quite excited about! Most of these students are the same age as Allenbourn students just 8000 miles away!

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Picture 2 – Some of my inspirations this month captured on my iPhone! 

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Oh AND I get to see you next week.  Can’t wait!

Love, Clare xxx”

Happy holidays to you Clare and to all of the teachers and students :).

So……what next???

Oh I think it’s about time I revealed another NYC postcard response.

My finders seem to know how to stick to a theme without even realising it.

This one came from BROADWAY!!!!…….

O.M.G (as the kids say).

xxx

Letter from the kids:

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Maddie – this is just so lovely :). I love to write and I am so glad to have an opportunity to do so. I like the way you mention that this project shows that my Mum is close to my heart. She most definitely is! Thank you xxx

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2 thoughts on “Back to Skool

  1. Well said Clare!!! I now know I can take my true inspiration and pride from my past pupils!!! eh girls. So lovely to see you both doing so well. enjoy your reunion x

  2. Hi Rachael, I have enjoyed so much hearing about your lovely mum’s life. We were friends at I.M.Marsh and she was an adopted scouser and spent many weekends staying at our house in Liverpool when she started teaching . Your grandma and grandad in Throckley used to look after me when I visited Newcastle and I was lucky enough to be invited to your mum and dad’s wedding.
    Keep up the good work with the blog. Regards Smyler X

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