I was a school-teacher for many years - starting off teaching children (and adults) with learning difficulties, then Primary school for a short while, and finally the bulk of my teaching career in Comprehensive heading a unit for children with learning and also with language difficulties (this was an inner city school with a large, new immigrant population with many non- English speakers).
Of course all teachers remember some pupils and forget others - we can't possibly remember them all. And I have to say that usually the ones I remember were either the difficult ones with behavioural problems (but who often were such lovely children underneath that exterior layer), and also many of the children with learning difficulties.
My first school was what was then known as a 'Special School' for children with fairly mild learning difficulties. Some of these children I shall never forget because of the pleasure it gave me to teach them, and to see them make tiny steps of progress.
Every Christmas I remember one little boy in particular and I would like to tell you about him. He was around nine years old, an only child and very much loved by his parents. He came from quite a poor family, but what they lacked in material things they more than made up for in love.
S, the little boy, rarely spoke - a mixture of shyness and difficulty in speaking I think. Whatever the reason whenever any school play happened, S never got a speaking part - for obvious reasons.
We had a Ladybird Book on Saint Boniface and my class loved it. I can't remember the story except that it involved Boniface crossing the sea in a boat to tour Europe, and I rather think the a Christmas tree was involved.
I recorded the story in brief on tape (yes, it was that long ago) and decided that if the class acted it out they could do so in mime. And this meant that S would not be left out. And so it was that S became Saint Boniface. I made him a canoe like boat out of cardboard. The whole thing was in mime and we finished by singing the carol 'O Christmas Tree' - the class sang and Boniface stood in the front and held a small Christmas tree covered with sparkling lights.
He was so excited that he told his parents which night to come and he had got the wrong night. They arrived to find the school in darkness and had to come again (quite a few miles on two buses) the next night. But it was worth it - they were thrilled, S got a standing ovation, his mother was in tears of pride. I have never forgotten that night and I think of it every year as Christmas approaches.