A Beacon of Light

I first worked with Sally in my first year of teaching- 2009. It was a class I’ve referenced in other posts and one I still have vivid memories of today.

That group of students challenged me to become a better teacher:

  • They were level 1 hospitality students and had very long and difficult days in the kitchens
  • All but one of the students had additional needs
  • Two of them were in foster care
  • Several others had volatile personal lives

As a brand new teacher, these young people tested me to my limits but I learnt so much from them and they played such a huge part in making me into the teacher I later became.

Sally Allan was a beacon of light in that classroom.

She wasn’t always my LSA but when she was allocated to the group, she was a god-send for more than one reason. She knew exactly what students needed it, when and how best this support might be received. She also showed me that, even though it might appear that a student was in need of your support with their learning, sometimes the best thing to do was leave them to struggle through it so they could achieve a sense of accomplishment. She managed to build wonderful rapport with each and every one of them and learnt things about their interests and lives so she could work with them far more effectively.

In a very selfish way, she brought so much to me by being in those lessons. Although I was learning a great deal from those students, I was learning so much from the careful way in which she worked with each of them.

I am certain never to meet another woman filled with such brightness, sage wisdom and such incredible warmth.

The students may have taught me to be a better teacher but Sally taught me to continue doing it with humanity.

Sally went missing over Christmas and a body was found yesterday.

I have always been angered by outpourings of grief after people have passed but today, I understand it for the first time: sometimes you only recognise the impact a person has had on your life once they have passed.

My writing commitment: I’m learning to honour my thoughts. I’m learning that my words can be shared before I’ve connected all the dots or learned everything there is to know. My writing can be a snapshot of a single moment in continually-evolving time.

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