It Was Nice To Meet You

27 10 2009

In mHelp Buttony job as a computer teacher, I meet all sorts, and those who know me have often heard me tell stories of bizarre characters and some of the strange things the students do or say.  It was a pleasure to meet one student, an elderly lady named Joan Duncan.

She first attended my Computers for Beginners course around 3 years ago and must have liked it, because she enrolled into the Microsoft Office course the following term.  A lot of seniors have difficulty with the tasks and remembering what to do from week to week, but Joan was ok.  She’d go off and practice and if she had any questions, she’d organise them well and ask the following week.  She was never pushy and she’d never take time away from others when quizzing me for information.  Often students can be quite demanding when trying to get extra help beyond what the course offers.

Joan must have enjoyed the Office course, because she did it again the next term.  That’s rare, but not unheard of.  Some students, especially those fresh from the Beginners courses can only retain a certain amount of information and choose to repeat. I’m happy with that, it keeps me in work and the ones that return feel more settled and comfortable, which brings a relaxing atmosphere to the class room.

Joan Duncan, however, was special.  She returned to Office for a third term and the term after that.  In fact, she came back to the same Office class on a Monday morning a total of twelve consecutive times over a period of three years.  Each time she showed up for the first day of term I’d laugh and ask her if she’d had enough yet, but she’d just smile and say, “Oh well, I pick up a few things each time I come back.”  She must have, because by the last few terms she could pretty much predict what I was going to say next.  I had to change-up my lesson plans to keep her guessing.   At the end of each term as I handed out certificates, I joked that Joan was using them to wallpaper her kitchen.

Today, there was a note on my desk in an envelope and a name penned in a stylish script.  It was from Joan.  The note reads-

Dear Garry,

Thanks for all your help over the years. I don’t expect to be back to your classes and I really do appreciate your patience and kindness. I enjoy using my computer and will always be learning something new from the book.

Yours sincerely,

Joan Duncan

‘The book’ refers to the manuals the college hand out as training aids in the courses.

Last term Joan confided in me that she feels her health is starting to fail, and that she’s changing her living arrangements so that she can be afforded more care by the retirement home where she dwells.  To me, she seems as sharp and as well as could be for a person of her years, but I guess I only saw her for the two hours each Monday.  I feel sad that I won’t have her in my classes again, even though I personally feel I have nothing more I can teach her in that area. This is the first term in a long time that the Monday morning class hasn’t run due to lack of enrolments.  It’s a slack term, and I guess that was the catalyst for Joan’s departure.  I wish her well in her new situation at the retirement village and I’m quite certain she’ll continue to learn on her own.  Monday mornings will be ‘Joan Day’ for some time to come, I think.

Life would be much simpler if every class was filled with students like her.  Or Playboy models. Either way.

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