My life changed on March 28th 2018. It would never be the same.
But actually that’s not the whole truth. My life actually changed during the Christmas holidays of 2017 when I came to this momentous decision.
But first, let me take you back…..
I graduated as a teacher 30 years ago. I loved teaching. I loved making a difference to little lives. In my first job as a class teacher of 6 year olds, I distinctly remember a lad called Mark. An older (but not wiser) teacher told me that I would have trouble with him. But I didn’t. I instinctively knew what to do to get him on board. To help him focus and succeed. I enjoyed teaching him. He was a character and full of beans. His parents told me that for the first time Mark enjoyed coming to school. I just ‘got’ the little people who needed something a bit different and a bit special.
Now I don’t necessarily believe in fate. I don’t go in for stars aligning or anything woo-woo. But fast forward a few years, and my son came into our lives. We adopted him at 18 months old. And from the start it was clear that he was going to need something a bit special.
I had to give up full-time class teaching as my son’s arrival was quick and needed immediate attention. I looked at the council’s paper circular (pre-internet days) and there was a part-time role in the special needs service. Fate? Who knows….This role called out to me! This was a council run service that sent ‘specialists’ into schools to support children.
I was sent to a lovely mainstream primary school in North West London. My first student was a little lad with cerebral palsy who also had behaviour difficulties. Now this was early 1990s and there was little understanding of true inclusion. But I was determined to help him. I had an idea to borrow an electric typewriter which I had to acquire from the Teachers Centre. This simple piece of equipment helped him communicate and changed the way he felt about school. I realised this was so easy. It only took simple changes to make a massive difference.
The service was disbanded and I was interviewed to remain at the school as a support teacher. I was delighted to be offered the role and there I remained for 27 years, being promoted a few times to finally becoming Assistant Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).
Not sure why I stayed so long in one place. But there was something quite unique about this school. We welcomed all children, with whatever difficulties they had and seamlessly and successfully included them into the curriculum. It would be no surprise to find a child signing in an assembly, or a child in a wheelchair organising races in the playground. We had a nurture group and mentors for children with behaviour difficulties. I absolutely encouraged all staff to respond appropriately to all children’s needs. So it wouldn’t be unusual to see a child making up a play with puppets or making a 3D model if that helped their understanding.
I loved working at this school with so many fabulous teachers and helped hundreds of wonderful, special children.
Meanwhile, ironically, I was struggling with the behaviour of my son. He found everything so difficult. School was as struggle. He was socially awkward. Family life was fraught. I read many books, attended conferences and battled with professionals to get him help. Eventually when he was 8 years old he was diagnosed with ADHD. To me this was a relief. We now had reason why he couldn’t keep still. We could now understand why he was impulsive and so disorganised. It now made sense why he could just not focus and missed important messages. It was nobody’s fault. He was just wired that way.
At work, one of my roles would be to run professional meetings with therapists, teachers and parents. And it was during one of these meetings a few years ago that I had, what I can only describe, as an epiphany. Now I said I don’t believe in anything woo-woo but an idea flashed into my head that I didn’t want to ignore….
Schools are beginning to get to grips with how we help and support our children with differing needs. There is a long, long way to go and some schools are better than others. Some schools I know are in dire need for more training.
But during this particular meeting it became clear that the parents felt stranded at weekends and long holidays with no help, support or advice. And I knew exactly how they felt. I used to hate school holidays and looked forward to the routine of school. My son couldn’t cope with holidays and the whole family suffered.
So the idea of Yellow Sun emerged. I would set up a consultancy with the pure aim of helping and supporting families. I now had the knowledge, experience and expertise to give real, practical advice to parents.
For nearly 2 years I worked on building up Yellow Sun whilst continuing my role as Assistant SENCO. It has been super exciting seeing my consultancy grow and I have had amazing testimonials from many, many happy clients. I can’t tell you how satisfied I feel – suffice it to say I am bursting!
I also help my husband in his business, so in effect I was working at three jobs. Too much!
So consequently my decision that I came to during the Christmas holidays 2017. I decided, with the support of my amazing hubby, to take early retirement from teaching. This was a huge step. It is a risk. It is scary.
But I did it!
So on March 28th 2018 I walked out of my school home for the last time. Now anyone who knows me, knows that I am quite emotional. To say that I shed a tear would not be the truth. I shed a bucket load of tears. There was beautiful assembly, a gorgeous tea and so many lovely messages from my colleagues. But most importantly to me, were the words expressed by the children and their parents. I felt incredibly humbled and extremely overwhelmed by the love, gratitude and thanks expressed.
I know I have made the best decision.
I can now spend 100% of my time growing what I can offer to my families.
I have more time for one-to-one consultations.
More time to go into schools and offer training in ADHD and autism.
I am planning a special event for parents (watch this space) and I will write for more magazines and publications.
I also want to get my face on TV as I am so super passionate about what I am doing, that I want to spread the word.
Our special children should be given every opportunity to succeed and feel amazing about themselves.
It is a brand new chapter of my life. And I am ready!
This one decision changed my life – but it could change yours too……..
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