Something A Teacher Said


She touches the people who have the honour to know her.  But she’s doesn’t know it.

Her genuine spirit makes me want to be more. But she doesn’t realise it.

In our family, she’s the one that makes us all laugh. But she doesn’t try.

She’s the child with a strong and simple faith.  It’s effortless.  I’m humbled by such a faith.

She’s the child who runs out in the rain, hands to the heavens to shouts with joy,  “This is a gift from God!” She does.

She’s the child that will comfort me, sensing when I’m sad or stressed.  She says, “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay mum.”

She puts her hand on my cheek, almost as if I were a child.

Her voice. Oh, she sings, ever so sweetly. I find myself waiting in anticipation for her next tune to pierce the air. It makes me stop, and listen.  Almost transfixed.

I look over at my husband, and we both smile. Everytime time we hear her voice.

That’s the sort of joy she brings.

Yet, this little girl of mine struggles at school. She has many different challenges to work through each day, like a working memory deficit, dyslexia, sensory process challenges and the anxiety that comes with all of that.

Sometimes I’m afraid.  I’m scared as she matures, the burdens may diminish her spirit.  That peers around her might judge her for her challenges rather than see her for her beauty.  I worry teachers may look at her like a burden rather than seeking to facilitate her strengths.

But I stand encouraged.  And I remember something a teacher said.  It was a long time ago now but I can hear the words as clearly as if it were yesterday, because they struck me so deeply at the time. Words from a teacher, not at all emotive, but exceptionally dedicated and patient in the education of her pupils.

In an interview early in the school year she said bluntly, “Kelly, she will probably always struggle at school.” Then she continued, “But I have no doubt she will be successful in life, because she works so hard. She tries really hard.”  She went on to describe my daughter’s positive interactions with fellow students and how everyone liked her.

Tears well in my eyes as I recall the words. I sit here in front of my computer and find myself crying. Such simple words but they meant so much to me at the beginning of the school years. What an incredible thing for a mother to hear: less about how her child excels and more about how her child strives to overcome. There’s so much beauty in that. Perspective even.

Teachers, you may not know how your words can encourage. You may not know how far your words can reach into the years. So thank you.

And mothers: those of you who have children who don’t quite fit into a box at school. Let us stand with these small and beautiful people as advocates.

I say it like a blessing: Let them always see their beauty as we see them. May they never lose their joy but always strive to overcome bravely — fearless even — and see this as an achievement weighing more than a mark on paper.

And — yes! — may they find their place to shine, and let them shine so very hard, and so very free.

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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  1. says

    This is a beautiful post and your daughter sounds like an amazing little lady! I totally agree with you, we are our children’s biggest advocates despite the struggles that they might have to overcome. How amazing to not necessarily have ‘successful’ kids in the aspect that they excel at school and pass every subject (although i realize the importance of this) , but to have kids that excel at life. That are free and dream big! That is what I want for my kids!

  2. says

    Kelly, both your spirit and your children’s is amazing. Great to have a teacher that had the ability to look beyond the ordinary and see her true strengths.

    • says

      Thank you Renee. You’re always so encouraging and kind. Yes, I feel so blessed to have had her as my daughter’s teacher so early on in the school years…because it set my perspective straight and well. Needed that.

  3. Lisa says

    Awesome Kelly! I held back tears. Love, love your message (and fabulous daughter who makes it possible for you to share this). Xx

  4. sylvia says

    see if you can get the movie the reading room it’s very inspirational. it shows that it is never too late and that there is always a way to reach out and get out. whether that be get out of the situation you are in or get out the best in someone, and shows just how far a little bit of patience and trust can get someone and how a little help now and then, whilst hard to ask for, is a good thing. i watch it whenever i am disheartened by my son’s educational struggles.

  5. Kristy says

    This is just what I needed to hear today! I too have a child who “doesn’t fit in a box” and it is so easy to get caught up in the negativity of what they can’t do and overlook the brilliant things that they can. Thank you for reminding me to treasure those quirks that make my son unique.

    • says

      Dear Kristy, you’re so right, it can be easy to be caught up in expectation, espeically when our society is so academic driven…which is not a bad thing in itself, but there is a lot more to life than grades, and achievement comes in all forms. As mums, let’s keep celebrating the treasure!

  6. Lily says

    I wish teacher who sent my son into a tail spin had half the heart that that teacher has.

    When my (now 20yr old) son started gr11 one teacher addressed the class with ” If you don’t all get A’s then you may as well not bother. You will fail at life”

    My son who had always been on the more anxious side, crashed. To the extent where I had to withdraw him within weeks of the start of the school year. He has since been diagnosed with a depressive anxiety disorder and I know he will always struggle, but he tries hard. He has just recently completed his senior certificate over a 2.5yr period at Tafe (college) and apart from 1 pass, the rest of his marks were credits and honours. Every teacher there worked WITH him and his disorder to get the best they could out of him.

    Oh, the blessing out of teachers who are Angels-in-disguise

    • says

      Oh Lily! It can work both ways, can’t they: the influence of teachers. So glad for the happy outcome…and yes, bless those Angels-in-disguise teachers! I wonder if they know how much it means to a parent when they get beside these ones?

  7. says

    What a great article Kelly! I have to remind myself that my Timmy has a lot to give this world, if only he can make it through school. And teachers that understands your child are a god-send.

  8. says

    Such a beautiful post Kelly. School is not for everyone, and ‘smarts’ can’t always be measured like grades at school. You have one very special child, and I think she has been blessed with a mother who knows this and will lead her along a most successful path. Thank you for sharing this part if your life with us. Xxx

  9. says

    I’m in the exact same boat Kelly. As a teacher Naplan is a great snapshot of a kid’s academic strengths and gives us direction for extending their abilities. As a parent I hate it. I had two daughters bring home their results. One all band 8’s and 9’s. The other 2’s and 3’s. Despite knowing all I do about these tests I still felt as a parent I had failed one special girl.

    I know I haven’t. I know that for her words and numbers are difficult. But she sings, hugs and dances in a way that brings joy to everyone she meets. I know too because of this she will succeed. I am raising my kids to believe in themselves, to care about others and to be good people. And at the end of it all, that is what matters.

      • Kylie says

        Go you! I discussed it with the OH, but I’m a teacher at the school and he’s the principal, so we have to tread a careful line. When parents ask me I say ‘Dont worry about it, don’t force feed the kids on NAPLAN prep stuff. Read to them. Hug them!’

  10. Abbie says

    What a great life story for us to read.
    to see the good and the not so good, brings tears to my heart. We are the first teacher in our child’s life, I oftimes think of the wrong decisions I have made in my teacher’s job, because as I first look upon that precious face, the most overwhelming love happens, It is a hard job to raise a family, you are a wife, mother,housekeeper, cook, nurse, many times a provider, and many more things,when there are many students to learn there is no 8 hour day then go home. I am glad I was able to teach at home,( being a MOM ) and only wish I had know more but am gratified that all of my precious love stories was able to use what they learned from me in order to do an even better job teaching. Blessings to all Teachers in what ever Place they fill, :)

  11. says

    Thank you for this, Kelly. It’s exactly what I needed to hear tonight. It spoke to me as a parent and a teacher. What wonderful, important and precious reminders. xoxo P

  12. Sasha Gibbs says

    I love how you write! My son is just like your daughter and a teacher described him as lifes innocence. … he’s full of love and very sensitive. I take a hot bath and he will come in with a glass of water for me …. he’s a lover of fun and adults will try their best to have him mould in to that box but he’s the way he is and we’re happy xxx

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