October (almost done the school year, with a classroom of FINALLY–adjusted 3-4 year old preschoolers who are used to routines and ACTUALLY starting to learn for the majority of the day!). Well, October, the principal comes to my calm classroom. I have a new student I want to put in your class. (Deep breath!) I know it’s the end of the year, but she desperately needs to be in school. Well, more accurately, her mother and her mother’s madam desperately need her to be in school! And so Thandi* entered my life, and the rest of that school year was nothing, if not exciting! If I had to pick a puppy to compare Thandi to, a Jack Russell would immediately come to mind. Just imagine this little one (younger than the rest and FULL of energy that she had not yet learned to control) wreaking havoc in our orderly schedules. My journey was learning to handle her excitement, and help her to understand herself. The next year, she started again in my room, and was still the handful. I can’t remember when, but I realized that she knew I didn’t love her, so why should she listen, why should she take on the monumental task of trying to channel her energy for good, for someone who didn’t really care for her. I started to pray…for my heart…for wisdom…and for and WITH her. Each day, whenever she went into her Jack Russel tirades around the classroom, I would hold her calmly and pray over her, out loud. I would thank God for the beauty, the potential, the future He had in her and for her. And she would calm. From there, she started to grow, but also to cling to me like white on rice. That was another test. While my love was never enough to not lose patience, God’s love for her was and is.
From being one of my host difficult students, Thandi* has blossomed into a caring little leader now in her Grade R year and ready to graduate. She is still bright, curious and energetic. She is my ‘greeter’ every time I come back to Urban Kids (now that I work in a different programme at Botshabelo). However, now she greets with a happy hello hug, but calmly lets me go and returns to something else fun she has in mind. She seems happier in her skin, more confident that she is beautiful, she is special, she is loved.
- Teacher Makopano, written November 2016
*Our preschooler’s name has been changed to ‘Thandi’ to protect her privacy.