A few months ago I wrote how my favourite teacher, Miss Jennifer Ann Bocking, was to be the VIP guest at a primary school reunion. Well that reunion took place this Saturday and everything I wrote about that wonderful lady still holds true. So, in case you missed me raving about her the first time, here (again) is my memory of the most inspirational, kind and caring teacher of the 20th century.
People always talk about that teacher… That special person who steered us through one or two of our tender, informative school years and whose name remains forever in our minds.
In my case it was Miss Jennifer Bocking. A truly lovely woman whose traditional teaching skills and sense of fairness gave us ten-year-olds a good grounding in some of the behavioural techniques we’ve taken forward into adult – and business – lives.
No one was ever in trouble. Naughty children were taught why their actions were unacceptable and shown strategies to improve and build relationships with others. Those who couldn’t cope well with academic subjects were encouraged in arts and sports. Anyone with only a few friends was drawn in to groups, by the whole class being subtly taught inclusive behaviour. Everyone was made to feel special… and valued.
Miss Bocking taught in our suburban primary school for 33 years!!! That’s almost 1000 children who enjoyed their final years in primary school and learned to love learning. Those of us who attended on Saturday found out about it through a Facebook group – what did we do before Facebook, eh? In that smaller-than-remembered school hall alone, the power of social media brought together four generations of Facebook users!
Miss Jenny Bocking arrived at the reunion looking as cheerful as I remember her, seemingly slightly smaller, although I’m obviously considerably taller than my 11-year-old self. She was absolutely charming and engaging as she entertained us with tales of days gone by and updates of other teachers. It was such a pleasure to be there, surrounded by people who also treasure their memories, all of us being inspired – yet again – by a teacher who still knows how to weave magic in the classroom.
High school knocked out my desire to learn and I was in my thirties when I embarked on my degree. “Why didn’t you tell her you have a Masters?” My mum asked. “Because I was too busy reminding her about the woolly beanie hats you knitted for everyone at Christmas…”
I loved art at school, and ‘Favourite Words’ is a touring art exhibition that kicked off on Saturday night at a private gallery in Walthamstow. It’s part of the Walthamstow and Leytonstone Art Trails that will culminate in a showing at the Olympic Park. I am showing three pieces in the exhibition, which depicts words that we like for what they mean, how they sound, their cultural value and many other reasons.
Katja, the lovely art curator, always supports and encourages me. In my Miss Bocking days I showed talent and won a place at art college – which I chose not to accept at the last minute. (The path not taken.) The standard of my artistic offering has declined shamefully since school and I usually submit poetry for Katja’s shows rather than visual art. This time, however, I doodled in the style of a school book cover, so quite in keeping with the school reunion theme!
Thought it would be appropriate today to quote the song that was number one the summer we left Miss Bocking’s class: “Ooh it’s so good, it’s so good, it’s so good, it’s so good, it’s so good…” (I was surprised to see that seven people wrote this – including Donna Summer, of course – but also Barry Manilow! A lot of lyricists for a song with only 17 words!! (18, if you count ‘ooh.’)
I liked writing at school, I liked writing for Katja’s art exhibition and I like writing now. If you’d like to find about my writing services for blogs and social media, ask me here: @WeekendWitch.