Daily Prompt Post: Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
My favourite teacher was one that I didn’t meet until my second last year of school, though it quickly felt like I’d known her for a long time. It’s funny, at first I really didn’t like her…through no fault of her own. I’d had a favourite teacher since Year 7, and she was supposed to be teaching me Theatre Studies in Year 11, my first class with her since Year 8. I was so excited. I rock up on the first day only to find she’d left the school without so much as a goodbye (in fact, she’d ended the conversation with “see you next year!” before school let out) so I was floored and guttered. Ms Tolli had taken her place, a teacher brand new to the school. I didn’t know her at all, but she was replacing my then-favourite teacher and nobody was going to be better than her.
It didn’t take too long for her to show us her fun and awesome she was though, and quickly the whole class were counting down to her classes. Realistically, I probably shouldn’t have been doing that class at all (I only signed up for it because I wanted to be in the original teacher’s grade). I was shy, awkward and wasn’t really interested in theatre at all. Despite all that, Ms Tolli made me (and others in a similar situation) feel like we belonged and that would could do it.
She was supportive and really had our best interests at heart. More than that, we saw her as a friend. Looking back, I’m not even sure how she managed that, because mostly when teachers try to pull that off, they just come off as try-hards. Not Ms Tolli though.
The main project of our theatre studies class was putting on a play from scratch, using only the people in our class. The class was pretty small really, only maybe 15 people, so that’s no small fete. We wound up spending a lot of time outside of normal school hours working on it, helping the actors learn their lines, building sets, working out the costumes and music. We became more than just a class of Year-11s-and-12s, we were like a little family, with Ms Tolli as our surrogate mum.
I feel like I grew up a lot that year, thanks to her mentoring and kindness. I started the year as shy and timid, and left with confidence and a stronger belief in myself.
We were so close by the end of the year that we celebrated at Ms Tolli’s house with a BBQ and booze. Throughout the year we’d gotten to know her three young kids, and they were so happy we were there and including them. Everyone was really sad the year was ending. Half the class was finishing school completely, and others weren’t taking up her class next year (drama). I was though, purely because I wanted another year with her.
I still miss her sometimes, and wish we were in contact. I don’t know where I’d be now if she hadn’t given me the confidence and self-belief that she did. Thanks for everything Vanda ❤