I’m incredibly emotional tonight. This week saw world teachers day & I took to Twitter to tweet about a primary school teacher that had a profound effect on my life. To such an extent I had written a piece about her in a creative writing group I took many many years ago.
I was thinking about how some people have no idea how they can shape & influence a child’s life with kind words & encouragement. I started to try & find her. Well tonight I found her. So I sent her the piece I had written about her:
Her Name was Joan Kiely…
Our paths fatefully crossed when I was in 3rd class in Rolestown National school sometime in the 80’s! One word that comes to mind to describe her was – amazing!
Her personality lit up the room as she entered. Her exuberance & energy were contagious. I simply adored her. She is the person I am indebted to for my love of reading & books!
She introduced me to none other than Roald Dahl. I hungrily ate every word she read to our class, as the last thing she’d do every day before the end of school, would be to read a chapter of whichever Dahl book was in her hands.
My favourite Roald Dahl book is Matilda. The story was about a girl that was different from all the other children and had a wonderful teacher called ms. Honey. Matilda had a love of books.
She also had magic inside. I had being seeing spirit since my earliest memory. I never fit in.
I was always on the outside looking in. I was always the last child to be picked for a team. The bullying I never spoke about until my teen years.
Her classes made me feel normal. Her spirit and her belief in me made me feel I could achieve anything.
Ms Kiely was also an actress. Some days she’d come to class & her beautiful red hair would be dyed grey as the part she’d be playing in the latest play demanded her hair change colour!
My tummy used to dance with butterflies when it came for my turn to read in class. I would throw myself into the character I was reading completely, unaware to the rolling eyes of my classmates!
Ms. Kiely would look at me and beam. That was all I needed & I’d be alright inside for the day. I loved writing for her.
At a parent teacher meeting my mother was concerned how I only wrote on one side of my copy book page, leaving the other side blank.
I was going through copies at quite a rate! My mum enquired as to why she hadn’t pulled me up on it. I can still see my mum impersonating Ms. Kiely, waving her hands & saying ” Fiona, is such a creative girl, it’s just her way of expressing herself!” My parents had decided that summer to change my sister & I to a gaeilscoil.
I will never forget the heartache when I realised I’d never see her again. It wasn’t my school friends I’d miss…it was my beloved teacher who nurtured my love of reading & imagination.
How do you put into words how profoundly grateful you are, that this person kindled a spark inside you that burned to this day. The inspirational pieces I write, my poetry, my love of everything magical & mystical I owe to her. The joy I had in reading Roald Dahl all over again to my child , (with all the voices & impersonations!) , can directly be traced back to this wonderful human being.
My love of books, I know I’ve Mentioned this but when you are a lonely little 8 year old girl they became a source of escapism for me, to this day I find great comfort inside the pages of a book. Whatever is happening in the world & my life, there is another universe awaiting me inside the pages of the latest book I’m reading. It is a safe harbour from the storms of life.
I would say she is the single greatest influence I’ve had in my life. She encouraged me to follow my heart. Thank you Ms. Kiely.
You will always be my Ms. Honey as you believed in a little girl who felt different from everyone else. I will carry you forever in my heart.
(C) Fiona Faery