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A chance catch-up with a very special Brighton old scholar who is making waves of the best sort here in New York. Hilarious that Australians can never get their act together to catch up when they live in the same city, but can do it on the other side of the world.
Such a joy to hear of all your successes + adventures, Anthony Zatorski!
Yes, I’m a Year 6-12 Specialist Classroom Music teacher, but being in a secondary school comes with hilarious and awesome benefits. Like being asked to RIDE A STUDENT-BUILT HOVERCRAFT!
This was the coolest thing ever. We had Year 8 Science Week and a KID BUILT A HOVERCRAFT, from a leaf-blower, piece of wood, and a lightweight plastic chair.
WHAT. A. CHAMP.
We had one very germy Miss Year 12 who came in especially to do her Solo Performance assessment today before going home to die quietly.
As she was getting ready, a one Sir Year 12 took a can of Glen20 from the side pocket of his backpack, (where the water bottle normally goes! ), and proceeded to spray a protective circle around himself and the healthy members of the class.
“I am NOT getting sick this year. I REFUSE to get sick this year!”
Poor Miss Year 12 is now feeling FABULOUSLY LOVED, and choking back incredulous laughter in between the coughing and spluttering.
And then he holds up the Glen20 and very seriously asks: “Ms Kwok, do you want a protective barrier as well?”
“Sure, why not?! Bring it on! Give me the Glen20 treatment!”
Next-level hypochondriac or smart-kiddie?! You decide.
My goodness, this unbelievably articulate card from a Sir Year 10 music renegade, with the bit that totally affects me:
“You are quirky but serious, strong but fair, and truthful yet compassionate and understanding. You have been a rock for me over the last semester particularly, and so supportive and nurturing. You are truly one of a kind. Also, you pull off outfits no one else could!”
What Year 10 sir writes like that, so authentically + articulately?!
I thanked him last night at Lessons + Carols for his beautifully written words and he said, “Well, they’re FAR more articulate on the page!” And then I remembered that he has a stutter. I’ve taught him for 3 years. He just has such good stuff to say that I don’t notice it until I think about it. Amazing.
Email from Sir Year 12 Composing + Arranging kiddie with the final version of his Major Work attached:
“Dear Ms Kwokkie,
Here’s my left lung to go with the kidney I gave you this week.
Enjoy, because I’m literally dying a painful death right now.
Sir Year 12.”
This is the card I received on the last day of school. My heart overflowed.
And the words inside:
And my last day of school?
One of those unexpected, extraordinary days made all the more present by sheer exhaustion…! My amazing Year 11 crew rallying to get a fellow student to perform when I had nothing left, an old Brighton parent out-of-the-blue giving me the most warm + generous thanks that left me speechless with wonder + gratitude, the response from the Friends of Pulteney presentation last night, farewells of dear colleagues + students, and then this card that appeared on my desk from one of my Year 12s with a bag of Haighs chocolate frogs.
Tears + tears + tears, from exhaustion + joy + wonder.
Happy holidays everyone! We’ve made it! 🌟
In Week 6 this term, I received this gorgeous thank you gift from one of my Year 12s. She had come into school especially with her Dad (carrier of gifts), to personally thank each of her teachers + hand on the present she’d chosen for each of us.
I was teaching Year 7s at the time, but they were in one of their rare moments of quiet, so I gestured for Miss Year 12 to come in.
She proudly presented me with her pot plant and a beautifully written card.
Me: “You got me a PLANT?! It’s beautiful, thank you! But now that means I have to keep it alive!”
Miss Year 12: “It’s okay, Ms Kwok. I have faith in you!”
Me: “No, you don’t understand…I’ve killed a cactus before. “Cactus Heaven” exists because of me. Its entire population is due entirely to my outstanding plant-nurturing skills!”
Miss Year 12: “Well, I know that you’ll be able to do it, just like you had complete faith in me from the moment you picked me up as a Year 12. Thank you so much for all the time you’ve put into me. I seriously wouldn’t have survived without you, and I’ve gotten so much better because of all your advice + support.”
And she gave me a huge hug.
But all of that wasn’t the most beautiful part of the process; it was the reaction of my Year 7s…they broke out into spontaneous applause.
And as I waved Miss Year 12 good bye, Miss Year 7 came up to me and said:
“That was the best thing ever. I’m so glad I got to see that!”
I turned to her and asked her with warmth + surprise: “How come?”
Miss Year 7: “Because it makes me believe that I can do Year 12 Music, and that I will be loved for exactly all my talents, and that even if they’re not perfect, I’ll still get to improve + be the best I can be.”
And that was my magic moment inside a magic moment.
And sometimes, you receive words like these…and your heart does a triple flip and sticks the landing.