I ran into my year three teacher today. When I say “ran into”, I mean we were at opposing tables at a restaurant and it took me an hour to build up the courage to say hello.
She had a pivotal role in my genetics and I often thought about writing her a letter. I’m better with paper. When she was sitting two meters away from me, I felt like an eight year old girl. I might as well have put my hand up to get her attention.
One day, Mrs. Gallo held me back at lunch. I was a shy girl fresh from Dubai that didn’t feel the need to participate in class cause it was easy as pie for me. I read novels under the table while my teachers dictated things I thought I already knew.
So the day she held me back as my classmates filtered out for lunch, I was shitting myself. I was thinking “How could she hold me back when I haven’t said anything?”. I also though she had caught on to my book-behind-the-tabletop ways.
She spoke to me very sternly and frankly. Said my grades were good but being silent and floating on “just enough” was a cop out. She scared me beyond words and told me that I should talk more in class or she was going to ask my parents to hold me back a year. School suicide. I went home that afternoon and cried my guts out.
But as the weeks went on, I started speaking in class about Emily Rodda and was giving ideas in science group projects. Mrs. Gallo pushed me into the Advance English class and encouraged my writing. And suddenly, I couldn’t stop giving my opinion, for better or worse.
As the rain drizzled in a little town called Windsor, I approached Mrs. Gallo on a Sunday afternoon and in a very blustered and blushing way, I tried to tell her how much she meant to me. I think I said four sentences at most and they were running on top of each other, racing to escape from my brain and getting all jumbled in the process.
She held my arm and said I looked familiar, asked how old I was and what I was doing now. It lasted three minutes and was lovely.
On the way out of the restaurant, my brother-in-law yelled out to her “So you’re the one we have to blame for Tash not shutting up”. Yes, yes she is and I am grateful I got to say thanks.