It was just another day at another school that I've been to for the past 10 years teaching students all about effective communication. Everything is all organised and my teacher walks me from reception to the drama studio where today's workshop is due to take place.
I'm seeing people who I know from past visits like the head teacher, a previous English teacher who stops and says hello, and students who walk by me and then turn on their heels and squeal! These students are ones I worked with last year. They can't believe I'm there again and they call out my name. "MamaDukes!!! 'Do you remember me? I was in your workshop last year!"
I work in over 40 schools every year and I can't always remember everyone I train. This particular student I will never forget though. When she walked through the door that day in March 2018 she was so happy but also was questioning herself for being there. Everyone else seemed to have a friend with them but she was there on her own. Yes, she knew the other students from her year but they were in different skill sets.
This young lady had not been on the original list of students to take part, but when she heard this workshop was happening she went to her English teacher and begged to be allowed to take part. You see, she wasn't in the 'Top Set of English', nor was she in the Second Set of English. She was in Set 3. So, they added her to the reserve list.
When she walked in and stood waiting to be asked to sit down I knew she had to join the group. She told me she was on the reserve list but I told her to take a seat.
For me, when I walk through the doors of any school I'm looking out for students who have that twinkle in their eye. The ones who have a story to tell and a voice that is aching to be heard. This young lady was one of those students. Eager to learn and eager to help others. Her name is Teni. When she took her seat, she had the biggest smile on her face and that put an even bigger smile on my face. I knew then and there that she was going to stand out and she did!
Teni just bubbled over with enthusiasm and excitement. It was so contagious and when you have someone like that in the workshop it just makes everyone happy. She asked questions freely. She volunteered without a worry. She worked endlessly over lunch with her competition speech, and she helped others as well.
This young lady grew in confidence at every stage of the workshop and when it came time for the school to pick a Finalist for the Regional Final they didn't have to think twice. This took Teni from speaking to 30 students at the workshop, then 100 students at a school assembly, and eventually to 250 audience members where she took Third Place for her speech entitled "Aunts and Giraffes" - all about the beauty inside.
Teni is the student who surprised me this week. She knocked on the door of my workshop and then walked in. This time it wasn't a student squealing my name - it was me squealling Teni's name.
Teni is an inspiration to those around her and I believe she has a protege she is working with this year. Time will tell if this protege becomes a winner as well.
Do you realise your impact? We never know whose life we will touch or whose life will touch us. Teni has truly inspired me and everytime I think of her I remember the twinkle in her eyes, the eagerness in her learning, and the caring in her heart!
Thank you for making me smile!