This week entailed visiting two schools, one a high school the other a primary school. It is great to be back into the swing of speaking to schol children again.
Feedback from the Principal of the primary school I spoke at this morning:
Trish addressed 150 of our Years 4-6 students and 40 parents and staff today, as our Guest Speaker for our Student Leader Induction Ceremony. For 45 minutes, she had the entire audience enthralled. My only regret is that I didn’t include our Years 2 and 3 students in the presentation. Her life story was genuine, heartfelt and inspiring to every person in the room. Once finished, I asked the students to share one key message they gained from Trish’s presentation. Responses included: ‘Don’t let anybody tell you can’t do something’, ‘It doesn’t matter about your appearance, it’s what’s inside that counts’, ‘If you want something badly enough, you can do it’, and ‘If somebody says something mean to you, it doesn’t matter….as long as you believe in yourself’. I believe this was a life-lesson that could not have been more powerfully delivered and it will stay with our students for a very long time.
My dear friend Trish has been an inspiration to me all my life. So the year I taught Year Six in my Primary school and came across an Australian Curriculum Unit of work about inspirational people my mind went directly to her. The unit of work mentioned now famous Australians who had overcome incredible obstacles to achieve extremely successfully in their lives. Amazing achievements actually, but my thoughts went to Trish who has shown such courage, persistence and love to be the incredible person that she is and what she has overcome to be successful in life.
I contacted her about coming to talk to my class, which then snowballed to the whole year six cohort of approximately 100 students. Fortunately for me, she accepted the invitation and challenge as she had never done anything like this before, but I knew it was in her capabilities because this would be nothing compared to what she has faced in her life. Trish was ‘Oh I’m not that inspirational Robyn’, ‘Omg, yes you are,’ I said. So we planned a time for her visit. She arrived at the office, I sent the two school captains to greet her and bring her into class. I remember that moment, she was very timid and I’m sure nervous coming in, as you would be to face 100, 12 year olds, but that particular year our year sixes were incredible young people just wanting to know how she coped with life and its many challenges as a Thalidomide sufferer. What started as going to be a short half hour visit became two hours. She told her story; the children were glued to her every word. A few of us shed a tear when she told us of her birth and the aftermath. The kids were full of questions which Trish answered honestly and without reservation. They felt honoured to know such an incredible person.
Trish showed them how to write with their feet and how she does the everyday life tasks which we so take for granted. The children tried to write with their feet too, there were many giggles at how their writing and drawing turned out, also an appreciation, which they would never have had in their life without Trish. There were many comments of, ‘Are you kidding, how does she do that?’ I was so, so proud of my friend. Trish showed the kids her photography skills and all she has achieved. On completion of our talk, the children didn’t want to let her leave so the whole class walked her to where her husband picked her up at the front of the school. They waved her off and the constant chatter about her life was the topic of many days later. I haven’t had her back to school because now I teach Year Two and that unit of work has moved on to High School Year Seven. But this became a teaching moment that the students and I will never forget. I see these students some times and they talk about Trish’s visit and how amazing she truly is. They ask me how she is going and I have told them that they were just the beginning of an amazing public speaking career moment for her. They smile and are proud of her and themselves.
That day ‘my’ children; our year sixes, were taught many life lessons which they carry with them today. They are now in Year Nine. The hand print Trish painted for us is still hanging on my classroom wall and when asked, I proudly tell my new students just how precious that painting is and exactly what it stands for. That day the kids certainly learnt lifelong lessons and what the word ‘inspirational’ truly means. Trish made her mark on those students and changed and enhanced their lives; she made a difference! I am forever grateful to have her in my life!
My beautiful cards and pencils I received after my talk yesterday. This was the feedback from one of the beautiful teachers there..
Thank so much for today. The kids couldn’t stop talking about you and didn’t want to leave at the end. The other teachers had so much praise for how wonderful your presentation was. We couldn’t get over how involved they were. I wish my kids were that interested in listening to me, haha. Thanks again, you certainly have a talent for sharing your message.
Teachers do an amazing job and don’t get enough credit for what they do..