I was musing not that long ago that maybe my time of teaching children and young people was over, perhaps it is but then, out of the blue, I got an email from an old student of mine. He will of course remain anonymous but he had somehow had the inclination to track me down, even though it has been a good five years since I taught him acting; the young, enthusiastic and intelligent performer that he was.
I would like to share some of the text of his email, obviously with any personal details of his removed:
I don't know if you remember me? I used to go to the Nottingham Arts Theatre, and had the privilege to work with you in your youth group. I apologise for leaving it so long to get in contact. Feel quite bad. It was my 21st birthday the other weekend, and my Gran gave me a folder containing programmes, scripts, pictures and letters from shows and activites that I participated in, and aquired over the years. Inside I found a letter from you, which brought back a lot of memories and surprisingly a bit of emotion lol. I didn't think you would still be using the email address that you had left on the letter after so many years, so I thought I should try and see if I could find you on the web, luckily it hasn't took long!! I hope all is well, and life is good for you! After you left Nottingham, I stayed with the youth group and theatre for 1 more term until forced to give up acting because work started sending me away all over the country for months at a time, was rather upsetting, but there you go!! lol...Yesterday I joined a small theatre called 'The Lace Market Theatre', you may have heard of it, not sure. anyway, I've joined the technical team so I can at least be a part of the system again, hopefully when I find another job it may give me the freedom to re-commit to acting. I still carry a lot of the lessons that I have learn't from you, that you taught me when you ran the youth group. They have helped me through some rough patches over the years, and helped make me the person I am today!! I think I speak for every one who was in the group, that you were greatly missed. Would be great to hear from you again...I immediately penned a response to the young man, who I cannot believe is 21 (how time flies) and I hope we maintain a long correspondence and he keeps me abreast of his successes.
It was a welcome reminder of the benefits of good teaching, both to the student and teacher and on reflection, the thought of my life without some form of teaching, without sharing and celebrating knowledge and watching students become expert; the breathtaking transformation of professional and personal into something new.
When I cast my mind back to the many people I've taught and the journeys of all these wonderful folk, the likes of Priya and her epic adventure, or the travails of enfant terrible Cole, the vigorous intelligence of Jonny and the new and deep friendship with Stephen; it makes my heart swell with pride and these are only a handful of the amazing relationships I have been a part of.
To watch people grow, to transform, to see them become empowered...I do not think I will ever retire from that.