One in a Million

Mrs Elliot, or ‘golly gosh’ as she was called, but not to her face, was a really great math

teacher. She had short brown curly hair, and always wore her black gown over her own clothes. Having only seen her from a distance, before fifth year, I perceived her to be a fierce woman; the reality was altogether different.

She was a fabulous teacher, and she didn’t take herself too seriously; one time, she was trying to explain a mathematical principle to us, and as she became increasingly frustrated, her upper dentures popped out. She quickly pulled them back in, and continued as if nothing had happened. I could feel a laugh filling up my belly, as I’m sure did others, but not a sound was uttered.

Life at home was very chaotic, and one day my father just up and left, without a word. As the oldest, I was expected to take on more responsibility (sixteen), and I gave all of my

savings to my mother, as she needed to pay bills. I became very withdrawn and quiet at school, and I wanted to be invisible.

The responsibility was overwhelming, and I felt as if I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. No one seemed to notice the change; except Mrs Elliot. She took me aside after class and asked if everything was alright at home, as I didn’t seem myself. I lied, and told her that I was fine; in our family, you didn’t blab your private business to agents of the state (teachers and social workers).

She was a lovely person, and I sometimes wonder if she’s still alive; I passed that exam with flying colours, having failed it the year before. I’m sure that many students had a similar experience of this fantastic person, who chose to be a math teacher. There were many good teachers at the school, but she was a great teacher.

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