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Congratulations Miss i

“Oh wow!” “Oh wow!” “Oh wow!” was all I could blurt out. No other words came into my head.

Our very clever miss i is booked into a Catholic college for high school next year. She already attends the Primary School attached to this College. A couple of weeks ago, she sat the scholarship exam they hold, to hopefully get some school fee relief.

Whilst considering her schooling options, I also registered her to sit an alternate scholarship exam for St Hilda’s which is an Anglican Girls’ School located only 100 metres down the same street. She loves the challenge of tests so was more than happy to sit both, on consecutive days. She has never been booked in to attend school elsewhere and we joked that attending St Hildas’ exam would be “good practice” for Iona on the following day. There is no way I would ever contemplate paying the fees at St Hildas regardless of the fact that they finished in the number one position on last year’s TEE results tables.

Well, last week, amongst all the sad phonecalls we were taking, I received a call from St Hildas asking me to make an interview for miss i to speak with their Principal. My thoughts were scrambled so I asked what this meant exactly? They said she had been shortlisted and the Principal wanted to meet her.

With homme away, and his return postponed on a daily basis, I rescheduled the appointment twice, hoping he could attend. Eventually, miss i and I made the appointment yesterday. She was so excited about the interview. When I asked her how she knew she loved interviews, she reminded me that she had had a face to face interview, and a telephone interview in year 4 when she tried out for the TV show Junior Einstein. Oh yeah, silly me. The fact that homme was not able to attend excited her that she may get to attend two!

So miss i was invited to speak to the Principal first while I chatted to the receptionist. Soon after, I was invited in. The Principal spoke highly of miss i. “What a beautiful, well rounded and such a delightful girl you have. She is very special.” We chatted briefly before the Principal said “Miss i is a remarkable girl and we would love to offer her a position at St Hildas. We would also like to offer her a 50%scholarship for her fees from year 7 to 12.”

It was at this point that my brain left me, and I gave the Principal no doubt as to where she inherited her intellect from, and he wasn’t in the room. We made another appointment for homme to meet her on Monday, and for him to have a tour of the school. “Take your time to make the decision”, she said. “Miss i tells me she sat the Iona scholarship exam also.”

With beams across our faces we headed to the privacy of the car to tell homme the news. Miss i did a little skip in the carpark, and we hugged. She phoned her Daddy and told him the news, how excited she was, and that she hadn’t made a decision.

I told miss i I was very impressed that her first reaction (or second or third for that matter) was not that she was not going if her friends weren’t going. Her reply: Mum, above everyting I have done in Primary School, above even my friendships, the one thing I am going to treasure the most about my time in Primary School are my sessions with Miss Neesham (her extension teacher with whom she participated in Challenge, then Tournament of Minds, now Future Problem Solving over the past three years. A teacher she spends only 1 1/2 hours each school week with.) That one comment alone reinforces her need to be mentally challenged on a daily basis.

Immediately following the interview, I dropped miss i off to her ballet class, where miss e was already. I drove to my friend’s house who had kindly babysat master x for me. In the car alone, I began to feel very emotional. This school tested my child, spoke with my child and offered her the equivalent of $48 000 in fees to attend their school. My child was one of only six girls being offered scholarships of varying amounts (no higher than 50%) from a group of 120 girls who sat the exam. 

Suddenly I felt vindicated for the parent-teacher interviews I had requested for the past 6 years, gently requesting that my child be extended in the classroom. It didn’t seem a problem to them as miss i was well behaved, polite, finished her work quickly and then read at her desk until the next task was issued. Some comments I had to deal with from well-meaning teachers:

  • Pre primary – we have been assessing miss i to commence her on school readers. It has taken three days so far as the system says we must start at the easiest and go from there. Did they not understand me when I told them she had been reading independently since the age of 2 1/2? Eventually they commenced her on level 21. I wasn’t concerned as she read chapter books herself anyway.
  • Year 1 – The beginning of “Miss i is quite advanced, so we will be allowing her to do extra homework. ” Oh, yippee, don’t think to give her more challenging stuff in school hours, but ‘punish’ her with extra homework.
  • Year 1 – Mid year 1, miss i commented that other kids went up levels in their readers and she was still on level 21. I hadn’t worried because she was reading everything she could get her hands on, including Narnia. Teacher said “I am waiting for kids to catch up so she has a peer group. Peer group? She doesn’t read in a group!
  • Year 2 – Miss i was so excited about writing her first long story. She spent days writing an amazing story, including speech marks. After 12 pages of writing she was told to stop and start transferring her story to photocopied lined paper for display. I learnt of this when she complained that I wasn’t getting her to school early enough to transcribe it before school started each day. I questioned the teacher and pointed out that her Draft copy had one grammatical error, and two spelling errors and was she not being punished when compared to the kids who wrote one page? If she had known she was going to write so much, she would have given her the display paper first.
  • Year 4 – miserable year at school. Two defunct teachers, mean girls in playground. Her new challenge teacher called for a meeting between us and her teachers. “It has come to the point”, said her challenge teacher “that miss i is holding back her thoughts in Challenge because her thoughts are so advanced that even her extension peers are intimidated”. She suggested that miss i be allowed to come out of class to sit in with the year 7 Future Problem Solving Team, just so that she could feel comfortable in a peer group that was at her level academically. Teachers and Principal would not agree to this idea, as she already has to catch up classwork she misses during Challenge and violin lessons. What about all the time she spends reading at her desk I enquired?
  • Year 5 and things started to improve. She had two dynamic teachers who allowed her to move forward in some areas.

As you can imagine, this list is not complete. Some of you may be reading this and thinking we have it easy, it is much harder to have a child who struggles at school. My heart goes out to you too. Children at either end of the spectrum are a challenge. Advocating for the rights of my gifted child often left me feeling elitist, pushy and torn. I often felt I compromised against her. I doubted myself and wondered if I saw her only through rose coloured glasses.

Yesterday I realised there are some places where her abilities are encouraged. During her interview miss i asked if she could join the creative writing club in year 7. “I can’t see why not”, said the Principal. “We encourage you to pursue your dreams and push yourself in all areas.”

We are celebrating her success, looking forward to having another tour, and awaiting results from Iona before making a decision.

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One Response

  1. We are so very happy for the greatness of this news! Darcy and Acacia were asking many questions about the type of questions Miss I may have had to answer. It is so wonderful when we are recognised for our strengths; whatever they may be.
    Regardless of the outcome, please tell Miss I how excited we are for her achievements. x
    We can’t wait to have a banquet with Miss E and a tickle with Master X.
    Until the next mumble, take care big sister x

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