give me a child ...

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I wonder how many primary school teachers retire surrounded by their now adult students? 27 year old son #1 traveled for 6 hours today to farewell his primary school teacher along with a number of his peers. Extraordinary really.

Deborah Brown has been teacher/principal of Afterlee School for something like 26 years. We moved into the community there in 1985 and like many others who bought in when the land was still relatively cheap, did so in search of a healthy, sustainable place to raise kids. Like many others we were poor but happy, growing food, kids, and a productive community of like-minded people. Central to the community was Afterlee School which for most of its life has had one teacher. Deborah both lived and worked in the community itself and her son was one of my boys friends.

The kids benefited from Deborah's creativity and her partner Rodney's IT skills. They created and learned in a small mixed-age group, working at their own level and from each other. Parents were always present, encouraged to be part of their kids education; sharing their talents with the kids via activity afternoons. I was lucky enough to do a bit of casual teaching there and we had some great times with paper, clips, tape etc exploring science challenges etc.

What I see now are a bunch of confident, sociable, creative, self-reliant and determined young adults. Schooling experiences are not everything but I am quite certain that the years my children spent in Deborah's care have helped make them what they are today. Their presence at her farewell is testament to their respect and fondness for her, and their positive recollections of their earliest years of learning.

Thank you Deborah. I wish you many relaxing years up to your elbows in creative pursuits, travel and family.

[CC Flickr image shared by robynejay]