One day I got an offer from a friend, she was a board trustee at a school. They needed a girl who like me, spoke a foreign language, to sort of help around the school and teach some Spanish words here and there.
At the beginning I wasn't so thrilled about it, in my perception teaching kids wasn't even a real job, the adult world was where the real action took place; but it was something to do after all, so I said yes.
The very first day I landed in Joan's room, the kinder garden teacher. I was supposed to be an assistant, but a few minutes after meeting her, I became her student. She must've been in her late fifties by that time and she had way more energy than me. At my early twenties I couldn't keep up to her pace. There was this magic halo around her all the time, and nobody would've been too surprised of spotting a fairy sitting on her shoulder. At her class she would speak softly, provide all kinds of options and ideas to create a kind and warm atmosphere, teach children love and respect. I was mesmerized.
I was given a schedule to go around the school giving little lessons, but it was hard and painful for an unexperienced outsider like me. The whole experience would've driven me away from the schools world if it hadn't been for her and her positive attitude towards everything. Kids were under a spell with her, the routine included signals (that the children would make up) to ask for more juice, or crackers during the snack and lunch times. While she read stories in a fascinating way, everybody -this former assistant included- would eat and be as attentive as possible not to miss a word.
Back then, when I was learning from her example, I never had the chance to thank her; in fact it was only after some time, I came to realize how that year actually changed me, as I discovered one of many purposes my life has had.
Thank you Joan, wherever you are.