12. 1975 To Sir, with love…..

Being a pre teen is not easy and for me this stage of my life marked the end of my primary schooling, moving from the intimacy of a  four room school with a class of children I had been with for 6 years to a twenty room school and a class with only one person I knew.      Added to this were the inevitable pre teen hormonal fluctuations, frayed family relationships and re-arranged social groupings in the school yard.   Now I must stress that the frayed family  relationships had a lot to do with me growing up and wanting to be treated as an adult with increased freedom while retaining the responsibility levels and tantrums of childhood – rather than poor parenting.

My pre-teen angst
My pre-teen angst

For me this saw me starting to collect recipes, doing some baking for the family and cooking dinner for the family – but only if I could be bothered –  not a good time to rely on me to supply the meal.    It was  the end of my career as a Ballerina and the start of my musical interlude when  I took up playing a Cello that was bigger than me.  I continued with speech and drama lessons, took up athletics  and gained an interest in gymnastics, particularly the bar which was often where I played rather than going home to cook dinner.     This phase is as tricky for parents as it is for children particularly if you add in mis-communication, undisclosed expectations, peer pressure and other siblings.

It is essential for young people to have some sense of stability as they negotiate this (and the many other) stages in the transition from childhood to adulthood and this is where trusted outsiders are the saving grace.  For me, in my pre teen years,  that stability came in the form of a school teacher, principal and family friend.

A friend who taught me right from wrong, 
And weak from strong,
That’s a lot to learn,

Mr Trevor Campbell was the Principal at Port Ahuriri School for my final years there and as my younger brothers went through their primary schooling.   Mr Campbell came to our school with innovative and exciting teaching methods and school organisational ideas,  knocking out walls, creating team teaching environments and pods.   He encouraged learning in the outdoors, projects, art and play.   The class trips to the snow on the hills and the week long trip to Levin were highlights of my final primary years.  I gained so many skills and attitudes particularly the ability to write in print script and a passion or learning and teaching through experiences.

Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone,
But in my mind,
I know they will still live on and on,

Mr  Campbell, and his awesome wife Kay, have remained  family friends of my parents –  trusted friends of  myself and my husband  – and  friends to my children.   They have welcomed us to their home over the years and we have shared many stories of those school girl days. I have so many treasured memories  from this friendship including the worlds best banana cake recipe and some awesome original art work but most importantly I have an example to try and live up to. 

A sketch in my sons Autograph book
A sketch in my sons Autograph book
 
But how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try,

Mr Campbell, thank you for believing in me, and all the other pupils you have taught,  for believing in our ability and for quietly and steadfastly encouraging us to keep on trying.   Thank you for listening to our concerns and taking us seriously.  Thank you for living your life as an example of possibilities and for following your dreams.  Thank you for sharing your family with my family.

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters,
That would soar a thousand feet high,
To Sir, with Love

Whenever I hear this song – I think of you with a deep sense of gratitude.

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