As I accompanied Shaniah towards your classroom on that somewhat unusually warm September morning, you may not have known this, but handing her over was super hard for me. Before now, I had never left her with an unfamiliar face. Here I stood leaving her at her table, firm fresh uniform swamping her whilst she played with the toy animals. It was hard, but I had trust in you and your team. 12 would be here before I knew it.
I remember not sleeping that well the night before. I remember worrying whether I had done enough to make this transition an easy one for Shaniah. I remember worrying that she would be lonely or find it hard to make new friends (I know, looking back what was I thinking?) I worried about whether she would get on with you. Truth is I didn’t need to worry about any of that. Walking home all she could talk about was how incredibly friendly and funny her new teacher was and how much fun you managed to cram into those few short hours.
Sure, we had a few moments where things didn’t go swimmingly, the long 6-hour school days took their toll, we had some illnesses and some breakdowns, but there beside the gate waiting to guide her in every morning was you, you with your smiling face and open arms.
One mention of your shared love for Liverpool FC had her longing to return each day, the tears faded and were soon replaced by remarks of a certain fluffy-haired footballer. Spring bought with it the champions league, another chance for Shaniah to go overboard with her Liverpool craze but you stood there and listened. That’s what truly made a difference, sure you were there to teach, but you always had time for children and their hobbies and interests. That is what makes you unique.
Fast forward to parents evening, we came along, super nervous as parents, praying that she was doing alright but knowing that she had never been to playgroup she may very well be lacking in some parts. You assured us that she was doing very well, in fact, you were so proud of her maths that you showed us her work with a beaming smile. We may have seemed reserved but we were ecstatic. Our girl was achieving great things, and that was not down to us, that was purely down to you, an incredibly great teacher.
You may well be wondering what the point to this letter is. Well, it’s to thank you for taking Shaniah under your wing. You teach 28 children but each one of those 28 learns as though your sole attention is on them and that is pretty special. In these short 10 months, Shaniah has learnt so much, she has progressed more than I could have ever imagined. She’s counting far beyond 100, she’s bold as brass, she’s loud, fierce and loving the learning journey.
Shaniah came home the other day, she sat there, her head in her hands and quiet. You’ve probably learnt by now, that is not Shaniah. She told me she had met her new teacher, she then proceeded to tell me that she didn’t need a new teacher, she’s happy with the one she has now. We sat and we spoke about how you’ve taught her all that there is to know in reception and that now she has to climb the educational ladder and expand her knowledge some more. Tears were shed and it was hard, but that was when I realised just how much you’ve impacted lives. In 10 short months, you’ve shaped a mind, a mind that is ready for the next chapter, even if she doesn’t know it yet.
So, all that’s left to say is thank you. Thank you to you and your fabulous assistants. Thank you for all the work that you have put into Shaniah. The child she leaves reception as is the polar opposite to the one she went in as. Your patience and guidance have driven Shaniah to be ready for anything that school throws her way. She’s no longer the last one in the classroom and that, that is all down to you and your passion for your job.
There is no doubt in my mind that she’s going to miss you, but she travels this journey of learning with a mind filled with the knowledge and memories that you have given her. These moments will be remembered forever.