Back To School

One of the great things that is happening in my life at the moment is that I have gotten involved with a program called Spin Chat.

The SpinChat program aims to raise awareness, promote prevention and educate secondary students about spinal cord injury. The program sees young people with a spinal cord injury (SCI) and in wheelchairs, visit high school students* to talk about life before their injury, the cause of their injury, and life since. A strong focus of the presentation is on risk minimisation and the consequences of careless or high-risk activities such as dangerous driving or diving into shallow waters.

This is a program I have long wanted to be involved with as I feel it is so imperative to share our stories, so to maybe even prevent one injury to occurring. The students generally leave with a better perspective for life and also greater awareness of what could potentially and unfortunately occur when we put ourselves at risk.

While I have be getting my presentations ready as a Spin Chat speaker, I was recently invited back to my old high school, Eltham High as a guest speaker at their whole school assembly. While this was an absolute honour, I have to admit that I was extremely nervous!
I wasn’t exactly what you would call a straight A student, and I knew there were a few teachers that may not have been too thrilled to see me, but given my circumstances and acheievements since leaving school, I knew they may also be proud of my accomplishment as I know I definitely am.

Eltham High School is such a remarkable and prestigious school, and I think being an ex student that didn’t quite rise to my full potential and appreciate the things they had to offer, and then returning as an adult to see just how wonderful the school is and how many exciting opportunities they have to offer, whether it be subjects or student programs, I was definitely looking into the future and seeing my children attending there.

One of the schools current topics or motto’s as we say, is “Respect for Diversity.” I think that it is truly amazing what this school is teaching their students and to hear some of the year 12 students share their stories on this topic, and reflect over their time at high school, was just inspiring.
Let me just say the new generation definitely has some potential presidents, politicians and life changes!

I was lucky to meet and chat with two year 12 students who were the school leaders, and honestly, the fit the criteria amazingly!

We chatted abut how much the school had developed over the last 8 years (I finished up in 2004 at the end of year 10), talked about exams, (unfortunately I couldn’t talk from experience as I didn’t make it that far, but certainly shared my tips and tricks to achieving my goals), and also spoke about their futures. Both of them were off to university next year, and it only took a short conversation to know that these kids were going to move mountains and achieve great things.

During my tour of the school I happened to come across an old nemesis.

Was there ever that one teacher that you had at school, that just made your life hell (or so you thought)? You know, the one that was always picking on you, (or so you thought again)?

Was that teacher the one teacher, that you will never forget and look back as an adult and can say, hey, that teacher really had a huge impact on me! Well I had that in Mr Pringle!
This man was my middle school coorindator and I thought he was the scariest man alive. Although, once I had left school and was serving him at McDonalds he was like a different person.
I’ve thought about this man’s face and scary voice that seemed like it could travel across countries many times when I have been put in diverse situations.
Even though he was scary as hell, I’ll always remember him as being the one that was always telling me that I was selling myself short and had the potential to do great things! He honestly believed that even though I wasn’t a top student, I would do something wonderful.

I found out when speaking to him today that when I had my accident he had tried to get in contact with my family and come and visit me in the hospital. This really touched my heart because I had spent my high school years trying to hide from this man and here he was trying to support the most difficult time of my life, which is exactly what he was trying to do back in high school, I just didn’t see it back then.

So if you are a student reading this and can relate, let me tell you, that teacher may make the hairs on your arms stand up right now, but trust me, they are only trying to do what is in your absolute best interests, and in a few years time, trust me, you will want to thank them!

Overall this was such a fabulous day with lots of mixed emotions but I am so proud to say that even though I didn’t complete my studies at Eltham High, I can stand up and say that a big part of the person I am today has come from the shaping of being a student at this school!

Life is all about learning. Every obstacle and challenge that we overcome becomes a lesson we have taught ourselves and we can then take that lesson and teach somebody else what we have learnt and so on.

I guess we are all teachers in some way, we just have our own wonderful subjects, at the school of life! :)

Much love
Rhiannon x