Thank you Mrs. Miller – Luv Sally age four ‘n’ haf
I was 68 this year and whilst I am both young and heart and a rock chick (Status rules okay) – I am also in the process of taking stock before I embark on the next couple of books I have in mind.
Anyway, at the same time I am heavily into social media – Facebook for my friends who are spread throughout the world in different time zones and LinkedIn for professional and work and Twitter – well that is a bit like Alice in Wonderland!
It was Twitter that got me to thinking about inspiration. There are many big hitters on there in the Leadership field – some of whom kindly follow me – somewhat out of curiosity I suspect – but there are many others who are selling courses and books on the art of leadership and they use their 140 characters to their full advantage #leadership #empowerment #10deadlysinsof etc, etc.
I have had the honour of interviewing some extraordinary people on radio and on camera. I have also attended conferences and seminars where leading speakers on world affairs, health and government have shared their vision and thoughts on these weighty subjects. However, when I was making a list of those that inspired and empowered me throughout my life, I was surprised at the people who actually stood out.
They were not the powerful, famous leaders in their field, but men and women just doing their jobs.
Of course there are family and friends who have supported me and inspired me on a daily basis on and offline including my husband David has been a wonderful motivating force for over 40 years. But as a child I was certainly blessed by having my two older sisters, who being 10 and 11 years older than me – let me tag along and everything they did, I did too. Well within reason! But they taught me to be fearless and jump off diving boards,made me smocked dresses, swim in shark invested (well jelly fish) waters and told me bedtime stories. My sister Diana was still at home when I became a teenager and her presence made those years a lot of fun.
I have a short list of people that I would like to pay tribute to over the next few posts. People who were in my life for short periods of time but whose impact has lasted a lifetime.
In the September after I was four, I went to school. The Garrison Primary School in Old Portsmouth was a collection of old corrugated iron and wooden huts and had four classrooms to the best of my memory. The head teacher was a Mrs Vine who later remarried and became Mrs Biscoe or Briscoe (come on it was 60 years ago!) More about her later.
I was obviously in the infants class- along with about 15/20 others. I wanted to go to school, as I mentioned my two sisters would read to me and I could already follow certain words and knew my letters. Even now I can remember the feeling of anticipation as my mother walked me from our home to school that first morning in my new clothes and squeaky Clark’s sandals.
The desks were old and scratched with a blackened hole where the ink wells used to reside. Tiny chairs with hard seats were uncomfortable and led to twitchy bums and fidgeting.
Our teacher was standing by the blackboard. I can still see her. Blonde, younger than my mother who was early 40’s, so about 32 I would think. She had slightly protruding teeth that gave her a lovely smile and she stood quietly as we all settled down.
When we were quiet, she introduced herself as Mrs. Miller and then she said the words that would change my short life as I knew it.
“Today, we are going to begin to learn how to read and write as these are the most important lessons for young children to learn”
I spent my first year at school with Mrs. Miller and I loved every minute. I can remember eagerly waiting for the next lesson and my hand was always the first up when she asked someone to read from our well worn books. She patiently guided our reading skills and then as we used our ruled books to copy our small a’s and capital A’s and the rest of the alphabet.
I began to read at home and I joined the children’s public library and always had a book on the go. My father was also a library member but his books were considerably racier than mine – Harold Robbins being one of his favourites – and I would help myself to his selection from about the age of 11. Always careful to take the book he had just read from the bottom of the stack he kept in his bedside cabinet. I probably read a great deal that was above my pay grade and certainly most was completely misunderstood!
Reading and then writing has been the greatest gift that I learned. Mrs Miller was just doing her job, but she and the millions of teachers around the world who teach children to read and write are inspirational.
To illustrate how inspirational she was, I still remember her name and how she looked 65 years later and I still treasure the gift she gave me of literacy. Apart from being able to read any book that I wished, my career in industry, radio and television would not have been possible. Nor would I be able to pursue my love of writing books, poetry, short stories, my blog and keeping in touch with friends and family. It also impacts our verbal communications and I certainly do love to talk!
This gift is precious and needs to be put into perspective. It is estimated that globally over 800million people cannot read or write. Around 70 million children do not have access to primary education and over a million people in the UK struggle with reading and writing. This impacts their everyday life in virtually every way.
Mrs Vine was also a character but I did not really have much contact with her until I returned after two years in Malta and joined moved from Interim class to her senior class.
She was memorable because firstly she looked like Olive Oyl from Popeye and we called her that behind her back – and also because Friday afternoons despite her tough exterior she would dispense a packet of boiled sweets.
Also, even though she was a strict disciplinarian, she was very fair. My father was posted to Cape Town and we were due to leave in the January 1963. In the September prior to that when I arrived in Mrs. Vine’s class for just one term, she still made me Head Girl until Christmas as a reward for my hard work. So thank you Mrs Vine too. For showing me that recognition of achievements is one of the most motivational rewards you can give to someone.
I suspect that Mrs Miller and Mrs Vine may no longer with us in this dimension but I do hope that they knew how influential they were to so many children and how they gave them such an important start in life.
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this nostalgic step back in time… please share your memories of people who have made a difference in your life.. Sally