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Ms. Hall, a Teacher Par Excellence

 

“The influence of a good teacher can never be erased.”

William Medina

 

Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, was our book club, Books & Beyond’s book for last month’s discussion.

This endearing little book is a personal memoir by the author, a television personality and UNICEF Good will Ambassador. The book takes the reader through a recollection of anecdotes from her unique childhood school during World War II, where railway carriages double up as class rooms. Toto Chan‘s school is a classic representation of learning that combines fun, freedom and love. The school is run by its visionary founder and headmaster, Sosaku Kobayashi who believes in freedom of expression and activity.

One of the discussions at the book club was around a teacher who had a life-altering effect on us. Just the way, Toto Chan’s principal, Mr. Kobayashi had a remarkable  role to play in igniting Toto Chan’s, and the children at Tomoe school’s inner spark.

Without much ado, here are a few life-changing experience with my teacher; Ms. Hall. 

 

Ms. Hall, a Hallmark of Poise, Grace, Fun, Inspiration and Kindness

New castle Upon Tyne, UK (1977)

 

I was all of five when we lived in New Castle Upon Tyne, UK. I went to a Jesmond Primary school; which in all possibility, I can claim was as fun as Toto Chan’s school – Tomoe.

Ms. Hall, our class teacher was a bundle of energy in that athletic frame of 5 feet 6 inches. With that frame came grace, poise, kind, gentle eyes, a spiffy crop of short hair and a complexion which had withstood many adventures in the sun.

I was just in kindergarten as you would have assumed by now.

The innumerable fun activities and adventures we threw ourselves into under Ms. Hall’s tutelage, surpasses all the activities I would have engaged in my entire school year, going forward.

Fun and Learning with Ms. Hall

A trip to the freezing ocean, where my teeth chattered beyond measure, as the icicles played merry on my nose, our one-of-a-kind stage play – Billy Goat Gruff that had an extraordinary bridge where Andrew, our troll would hide, while we practised to be one of the goats, the countless music classes singing “Fishing, fishing down by the sea”; will all stay etched in my heart forever.

School children-snowman-snow
Can you spot me standing right next to Ms. Hall in the red duffle?
I apologise for the quality of the image. Tried my best to edit it, but this was clicked on a phone by my Father dearest, with minimum light.

I can’t forget the pre-X’mas celebrations when Santa came with a bunch of candies and loads of goodies. It was as real as it could ever get. After we gleefully grabbed our presents from Santa, Ms. Hall and our class coordinator asked us to get back to our classrooms. Santa liked to surreptitiously leave in his sleigh. Goodbyes weren’t his thing, in all probability!

For a 5 year-old shy, brown girl to settle amongst the white students was no mean task. I barely spoke a smattering of English. Yet, I was fortunate to have an adoring friend in Tracy, a gentle, kind girl who carried her long golden braids with so much elan. Her love for me was unconditional.

As a teacher, Ms. Hall always went that extra mile to make me feel special. Her kind, life-affirming words, her unfailing faith in my abilities, her appreciation for the person I was; played a pivotal role in boosting my sagging confidence.

That Odd One Out

Yet I did feel like the odd one out, on occasions. I remember we had this huge, colourful rolling wheel, on which one kid would get on to; while the others pushed. Every one clamoured to be on this gigantic spinning wheel. A part of me was scared to do so. I had motion sickness. Yet another part of me wished to try it out at least once, and experience this wonder that everyone was so enamoured by. 

One sunny morning, I braced myself to finally get on to the wheel. I was pushing the others on the wheel enthusiastically, patiently, waiting for my turn. This smart, pretty girl from my grade who had a mop of auburn curls, kept ignoring me and making hushed comments to the others on the side. Every one got on to the wheel, except for me. When my turn came, all the kids were ready to go back to class. That was the first time I gathered what it meant to be discriminated for the colour of my skin!

Tracy wasn’t around to stand by my side that day.

Apart from this one off incident, I noticed how Ms. Hall always had my back. She encouraged me to go on stage and act out one of the goats from Billy Goat Gruff, helping me get rid of my stage fright. Ms. Hall figured I enjoyed singing, so she made sure I was part of the school choir.

She would spend afternoons helping me read various Lady Bird books. I was introduced to the fascinating world of books, all thanks to Ms. Hall.

I was beginning to speak English fairly well and the cloak of shyness was shed, paving way for an aura of confidence

Lollypop man-Zebra crossing-children
Lolly Pop man helped us cross the road to our school with his enchanting smile. I still remember how embarrassed I was when Father dear Father made me pose next to him. Now, I’m just glad for the memory. 🙂

The Memories Live On

When we left New Castle to return to India, my father recorded this long, beautiful conversation he had with Ms. Hall about me, on a cassette tape. I still listen to when I go back home to Lucknow. He also recorded our choir singing all the lovely songs we had learned. All these memories continues to make me grin ear to ear.

When we returned to India I went back to my old school in the University, where my Dad was a scientist and where I was born too.. Campus school was a convent. The sisters and teachers were so impressed by my confidence and British accent that I was chosen to give the welcome speech for our school’s annual day. I was barely seven then, and the youngest ever to give a welcome speech for this grand occasion.

Ms. Hall, was a teacher par excellence indeed. 

I wonder where she is now. I hope I can find her and meet her some day.

Ms. Hall’s twinkling blue eyes, her unhindered faith and confidence in my abilities, her gentle love, and those inspiring and reassuring words had a way of calming my inner being.

These proved to be the fallow ground in which seeds were sown. Seeds of confidence, of love for the English language and books, of singing unabashedly, of exploring my inner spark and creativity, and being comfortable in my skin .

As brown as it was!

 

 

Linking up with my lovely friends Cathy and Alana for Monday Mewsic Moves, Corinne for Monday Musings,  Trent for Weekly Smiles, Sandee and Keith for Wordless Wednesday,

33 thoughts on “Ms. Hall, a Teacher Par Excellence

  1. I enjoyed reading the beautiful memories you shared, Natasha.
    I always say that teaching is a vocation and a mission, not just a job.

    Have a great weekend, my dear friend.

    Hugs and blessings ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
    Veronica Lee recently posted…Gallimaufry#41My Profile

    1. I’m so glad this landed back on me, D. I hope to add more pictures and maybe a part of the audio recording once I can. I’ll have to get the pictures from Lucknow, though.

      Yes, some teacher’s have a huge impact on our being.

    1. That is so wonderful and blessed. I think we need those teacher’s who believe is us and also those who don’t; to help us find our true worth, Sonia.

      A lot of us have also been scarred by teacher’s who made life tough for us, but those are the one’s who we needed to be part of. After all what’s a rose without it’s thorns. 🙂

      Lovely to have you swing by. 🙂

  2. Natasha,

    I enjoyed reading your memories and tribute to a special teacher. It’s sad that our society discriminates. No matter how this situation improves, it will never be erased from this world. Humans can’t wrap the idea that WE ALL are created equally in the eyes of our Creature. I’m happy you found a kind friend and beloved teacher in those days spent in the UK. Thanks for joining the 4M party, my dear. Never worry about what song choice you include because as long as there is music then it makes us all happier. 😉 Have a boogietastic week! Oh yes, I answered this on my site but I’m no longer on Twitter. I haven’t been for 2-3 years. The censorship blocking anyone who disagrees with Twitter’s then policy got to be too much and so I dropped that social platform along with a few others.

    1. You said it, we all are indeed created equally in the eyes of the creator, yet biases continue to flow.

      But who knows, I have faith in an utopia which will be free of biases and only unconditional love and kindness.
      So glad I can hop in with my writings and music. After all my heart always beats to the rhythm of music. 🙂 Thanks for hosting hun. <3
      Bright thy day. xox

  3. I so enjoyed reading your story. Ms Hall and Tracy are clearly part of the person you became. They pushed your differences aside and accepted you for who you were, not where you were from. I hope you get to go back one day. Thank you for sharing these memories with us Natasha.

  4. It sounds like Ms Hall and Tracy made what could have been an awful time for an impressionable young child into a special year of growth. There are a lot of good people and good teachers out there – I’m glad you had such a good person at a time that you needed her 🙂

    1. I totally agree. There are so many good people out there. They always preceded the not so kind ones.

      Yes, Tracy and Ms. Hall are unforgettable. I so hope I find them some day. 🙂

      Have a good trip Trent. Adios! See you soon.

  5. These memories are so precious. And I am so glad you shared them with us.
    Sometimes a real teacher could change our path or help us find it!
    Thank you dear Natasha!
    Love and hugs!❤️

    1. I am so glad that I could rewind back to them and share this. Thanks to the lovely book Toto Chan. It brought everything back flooding.

      Hugs and big love Suzana dearest. <3

  6. How fortunate you were to land in the classroom of Ms. Hall and, to have your father recording these various memories. Your music was perfect for the post, too. We can only hope for the teacher who changed our life. I suspect most successful people have one or two. I had two – the English teacher who was also my homeroom teacher in 7th and 9th grade, and encouraged my writing.
    Also, my 11th grade history teacher, who nourished my love of history. He, sadly, passed away suddenly less than a year later.

    1. Dear Alana,

      Dad is quite the visonary. He thinks so much ahead of his times and I’m lucky to have the pictures and recordings as well.

      I wonder where Ms. Hall must be. Maybe our paths will cross soon.

      Glad you enjoyed the music.

      Yes, my English teacher in senior school also had so much faith in me and I can’t thank her enough for her presence in my life. As was another English and then Civics teacher who was our role model. A gorgeous lady with so much character, knowledge and class. Unfortunately she passed away too very young.

      I can feel the pain you must have gone through when your History teacher passed over.

      Have a good weekend. Love.

  7. My dear Natasha, I was deeply moved by the memories you shared here, and for which I thank you. <3 <3
    Such a teacher can make a difference in the life of a child who will one day become an adult. What we live in our childhood leaves deep traces in our soul, and when the signs are positive (so to speak) it's wonderful!
    I hug you with love! Big hug! <3
    Love! Joy! Peace!

    1. Thank you for reading my dear Di. <3 <3
      Yes, our growing up years are extremely important in shaping our personalities and having adults who have faith in our abilities makes a world of difference.

      Hugs right back at you.
      Love, light and laugher precious one. xoxo

  8. There is always that one teacher that you remember. What a lovely post about that one teacher for you.

    Thank you for joining the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

    Have a fabulous Wordless Wednesday, my dearest Natasha. ♥
    Sandee recently posted…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  9. What a great story of a wonderful teacher, Natasha. It also brought back memories to my childhood and to my religion teacher, who was the only one who saw me as I am and not through the eyes of others. She wrote some wonderful words in my poetry album, that I cherish forever. You look very pretty and I recognised you immediately, cause you haven’t changed at all 😉
    Thank you for your comforting words on Binky’s passing on our blog and on Instagram and for loving her so much. She loved you right back and sends Pawkisses from heaven, just for you♥♥♥
    Angel Binky and Granny recently posted…Almost three weeks without youMy Profile

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