I have been doing a lot of de-cluttering lately in my classroom. A job long overdue as my school moved from Hammersmith to White City two years ago, and then it was a case of getting rid of as much as possible, but still taking with me all that I thought I might actually use as a teacher. A plethora of stuff – and mostly indeed utilized at least once since the move.
But now things are different. I am leaving the school in 4 weeks’ time, and no fixed place to go! So – I have to de-clutter, clear out, sort and say good bye to many things. It’s hard in some ways, very liberating in others. The beauty of digital cameras is that I can actually take photos of some things before they go to a new home (aka the charity shop) so no doubt you will be privileged to see pictures of these treasures at some later date.
But revenons a ̀ nos moutons as my French teacher used to say (maybe she only said it once –I’m trying not to exaggerate) and back to my classroom.
I have a special drawer where I keep things that people have given to me – drawings, letters, poems etc. I was once going to publish a school poetry book with adult submissions. And so I came across the only submission I was given. By Pam Dudley. She died very sadly a couple of years ago from a heart condition. I have no idea how old she was, a little older than me, for sure, but not old old, if you know what I mean.
She was, however an amazing looking woman. She had the biggest eyes I have ever seen, always dramatically made up with eyeliner and mascara. Her hands were incredible. Beautifully cared for with long, long nails in the days before anybody went to a nail shop to have them stuck on. Hers were real, rock hard, relentlessly filed and sharpened into perfect ovals and painted. Whatever she did – and she did a lot, they never broke or chipped or cracked. Enviable.
Pam was a teaching assistant in Cambridge School when I arrived in the year 2000. I thought she would always be there, but although she conserved her energy in any way she could, in the end she got too ill to work. Though she did not give up without a fight. I remember going to visit her in Charing Cross Hospital one afternoon. I took her some flowers but I was not allowed to give them to her. Germs or something. However, on her bed, in her beautiful hands, were a pile of school registers! She was allowed to handle them! Who knows who had handled them before? There was no stopping her. She filled in all the entries, added up all the columns, made comments in her very distinctive handwriting – and still felt she was doing something useful for the school. She deservedly won the Jack Petchey Leader’s award that year for her unremitting devotion and dedication to the children and her work.
Here are her poems: not entirely seasonal, but fun!
The sky is dark,
The moon is high,
The witches soar across the sky.
Higher and higher on their brooms
Their outline reflecting across the moon.
People shaking in their shoes
Hiding underneath their roofs,
Frightened to look at the spooky scenes:
All they can hear are the eerie screams.
Round and round the witches go
Zooming low like the crow.
Suddenly the sky begins to glow
And all the witches have to go
Back to their dark and dreary caves
Away from the sunlight’s destroying rays.
The sun is up, the sky is blue
The air is sweet and smells of morning dew.
Everyone comes out to cheer
Hallowe’en has gone for another year.
Holidays are over
Time to go back to school.
Can I remember all of the rules?
No pushing, no shoving
Or cussing and tutting.
Be kind and polite to everyone in sight.
Oh, drat all that homework every night,
and always remember the teachers are mostly right.
Now I’ve thought about all of my plight
Isn’t it time next holiday’s in sight?
If you remember Pam you might like to make a comment too!