Dear Mrs Savage,
I write to you this early morning about the many experiences and journeys I have undertaken from the time you were my fourth and sixth year primary school teacher. However, before I begin to discuss and inform you of all of my achievements and accomplishments that I have succeeded in, allow me to introduce myself.
For I am sure there has been plenty of students that have stood out during your time as an active member of our education system. Whether it is for the right or wrong reasons and from past memories, there was plenty of wrong reasons for previous students to be remembered by.
My name is Scarlett O’Chunky and I was formerly a student of yours at the primary school that resided south of the Brisbane River, in a community where the local high school used to grow marijuana under the local bridge and the high school students used to stroll across the small oval to reach their destinations.
If this doesn’t ring a bell than my younger sister used to be actively known as Cathy Freeman for her incredible sportsmanship and unique ability to pull laps around the school without so much as breaking a sweat.
As to why I am writing this message after having known for many years that you are no longer a teacher and have actively retired, I just wanted to say that you have been an active person throughout my life. Whether you have been there in person or in some form or shape, but the memory of what you have ultimately taught me as a student, person, young woman and adult still continues to live within me on a daily basis.
Speaking of memories, my last memory I have of you was spent listening to words of wisdom from your mouth on how I should ‘achieve and strive for the best I can possibly reach’ was the afternoon I deliberately chose to be late for my netball game. Even today when I think about that day as a twenty-something year old, I cannot pinpoint what made me decide to be late.
Was it the burnt orange, vibrant yellow and mellowing pink shirt that appeared to be soft, smooth and flowing that held my attention or was it the no-nonsense attitude you had towards delinquents or those who came from backgrounds where their parents simply didn’t care about their education? Or could it have been the tiny clusters of miniature desks and chairs that didn’t allow you to rock backwards but reinstated a straight back, not that high school kept up with the straight back chairs?
But I do know this and it was the love you once had and possessed that made me stay behind to pull out a chair and listen to you. In between being my thoughts on how high school was going, was I coping with the homework and stern lecture of finishing my math homework. Something I must admit I somewhat never did.
For I also must admit after being told countless times by you and many teachers following your footsteps the benefits of algebra, I must disagree with you because I have never found myself drawing a triangle to calculate body measurement for my field of work. It also brings to mind, the memories of feeling like I was chained to my chair and desk so I would complete my remaining math homework or being asked to spell ‘parliament’ over and over again because I continuously forgot the ‘a’ since it was silent.
These memories soon disappeared when I thought about the brighter moments of being encouraged, rewarded when I finally learnt how to spell parliament and restaurant correctly and being reminded how important it is to be educated and to enjoy the privilege of being so. For although you never mentioned it out loud and as someone who is a lot wiser and mature than myself at the time, I am thankful for the many opportunities that I took for granted and how these moments are still being taught to the next generation.
I speak fondly of these moments because I was able to learn of how a man travelled hundreds of thousands of kilometres to walk on the moon. I learnt about the Solar System all the while learning the funny mnemonic of My Very Elderly Mother Just Sat Up Near Pluto. All of the letters for the plants on the Solar System: Mercury, Venous, Mars, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto; only to now be told as a twenty-something year old that Pluto is now dubbed no longer a planet in the Solar System.
But also, I got to discover how Columbus and Drake sailed across the world and proved the point that the surface of the planet was round and not straight like a rectangle. How these adventurers would carve future pathways for merchant tradings on gold, spices, textiles while expanding the British and Spanish Empires. Lastly, teaching me the fundamentals of writing speeches and presenting said speeches in front of a classroom, all the while trying to not pass out from anxiety and fear.
Although these moments are some of my favourites that I shall take the grave with me, my all time favourite wouldn’t be watching my sister ran laps around the oval while encouraging the other girls to cross the finish line before patting them on the back. Instead, my all time favourite memory was spent being hunched over a miniature table and in a straight backed blue chair, with a book firmly planted on the surface of the desk and secured in a tight grip.
The thought of being able to dive head first into chapters and chapters of written words, sentences and paragraphs that told of a plot line and story is my biggest pleasure of being a student of yours. As you tendered to other students and listening to them read out loud to you, my sacred time was spent reading about the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt, how Cleopatra effectively became King and Queen of Lower and Higher Egypt, discovering Ancient Greece paving way to modern day Olympic games.
Before climbing through a wooden window and scaling across a roof for Miss Honey’s favourite doll, licking and eating the wallpaper in a chocolate factor under the observing eye of Mr Wonker before scurrying up a ladder to reside on a Giant Peach as written by Roald Dahl. Or imaging a pink umbrella tapping out a staccato pattern on a brick wall before the wall peeled back on its self, to show a certain young wizard the entry to Diagon Alley and effectively attending Hogwarts.
These few moments, hours, days and weeks were spent formulating, deciphering and piecing together words, sounds, sensation and pronunciation.
Without these afternoons that were spent in delight while enjoying my guilty pleasure of being able to read and not be forced to put down the book; I don’t think my love for reading and be educated would have been encouraged and as a result, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But more importantly, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve half of the things I have been able to achieve without your precise thoughts on how education should be handed out and your dedication to seeing me succeeded in life.
This thought spurred me to graduate high school and effectively leave the school ground with a certificate of completion alongside an outstanding OP rank. Although I must admit to wagging a few days every week because I was ultimately bored and left unsatisfied with what was on offer regarding education, lessons and structuring of the program offered, the drive for excellence often presented by you when it came to math and English has paved the pathway to using my brain for something more fulfilling and interesting.
The need, desire and wanting of becoming a higher educated woman has spurred me on to accomplishing a few certificates and job titles during my earlier years of adulthood. However, my greatest achievement to date isn’t marriage or successfully delivering healthy children from my own womb. Rather my greatest achievement to date is being accepted into college, striving to become an further educated woman and successfully overcoming any hurdle put in my way.
Dearest Mrs Savage, thank you for everything that you have given me regarding education, encouragement and many opportunities to overcome my Dyslexia and all that entails with that disorder of the mind. But lastly, thank you for giving me the knowledge that anyone with the right strive, a goal orientated mind and thirst for wanting more in life and themselves can achieve any goal they set their mind to.
My final memory of mine prior to walking out that door and thanking you for being my teacher was informing you that I would make myself proud with my success and that I would be going to college one day. This is the day that I can finally state after 11 years: I have attended college and as of tomorrow, I will be graduating Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor in Nursing.
I will finally become that Nurse like I said I would.
Lastly Mrs Savage, I wish to thank you for forcing me to sit down at my school table and do my math homework as my job is all math orientated. But without you realising or acknowledging, your love for wanting to educate and encouraging those to pick up a book has essentially allowed me to turn the very first page in my life and in return, I’ve been able to write and reread some very interesting stories that hold a different array of subjects, characters, genres and formats of writing.
Without you and the wonderful things you have brought to my life and to many others, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Scarlett O’Chunky, Registered Nurse.