One day in my first year of high school, I was sent to her office for not attending school without my parent’s permission. I remember sitting in front of her, and she asked me to explain the situation. I was always a kid who couldn’t lie and due to how she had asked me the question, I also didn’t want to lie to her. I explained what had happened. She immediately confirmed the honesty she felt in me. She didn’t make a big deal about the incident, and she gave me a detention but then spent the rest of the meeting talking with me about what was going on.
Over the next five years I spent a lot of time in her office. Sometimes when things weren’t going so well at home, I would purposely play up and push the boundaries just to be sent to her. I loved the discipline she would give me. Sometimes when I wasn’t getting this elsewhere, she would be the one to pull me up and pull me back into line. She was always consistent with this, and that made me feel safe. Sometimes she would get frustrated, but even that was a sign that she cared.
From the outside at the time it may have looked like this didn’t work, as I was still mucking up at school. However, how things appear on the outside are not always how they actually are. At one stage I was the student with the worst reputation in the school, to the point that some teachers refused to have me in their class.
However during this time this principal didn’t react to my behaviours; she was able to see through them. One day she asked me what I wanted to do when I left school. I was a bit embarrassed to say that I wanted to be a teacher because I was always in trouble, but I shared this with her. She said to me,
“Kristy, if you commit to this and make this happen you will be an incredible teacher. You will have a lot to offer and come back and teach us all. I have already learnt a lot from you about how to teach and what young people need. You have asked us to teach you differently, so when you are a teacher you will know what each child needs and how to support them”.
As a teacher when I reflect on my own experiences with this principal, I have learnt that it’s important to see beyond a child’s behaviour, be consistent and call them to be who they are. You might not think its making a difference but sometimes you can never fully see the difference you do make in a young person’s life.