An update on O
This post is a follow-up to my post about O on 9 June 2004.
Despite the death of his mother the day before exams began, he made it through all of them (grammar, translation, dictation, oral and correspondence all in both English and French as well as the Cambridge FCE exam), passing his final oral one at 11h today. I was on the exam jury and I think it made a difference (the other members were Bossman and Bosswoman). He started off slowly, looked at me and I smiled at him to let him know that everything was alright (we hadn’t planned that in advance). I tried not to write too many things down, because I could tell it made him nervous when BM and BW did. During his ten-minute presentation, he glanced at me quite a bit for reassurance, which I provided by a kind expression on my face. After the question part of the oral exam he left so that BM, BW and I could decide on a grade for him.
BM and BW are perfectly well aware of what he’s been through the past few weeks, and we all commented on his courage. He could have easily had his exams deferred due to the death, but didn’t want to. None of us thought he would…it’s just not O’s style. We discussed the fact that both BW and I knew he could have done better (BW had been his translation teacher), but could only grade him on what he did today. We decided on the grade (a bit lower than he was capable of, but still good), called him back into the room and told him the result. We could tell he was disappointed by his performance, but he agreed with us that he could have done better.
After signing the acceptance of the grade, he told us that making it through exams had been very difficult. He said that he had had trouble concentrating on most of them, which is why all of his exam grades were slightly lower than usual. I extended my hand and shook his, BW did the same, BW gave him a hug and he went home to pack. He leaves tomorrow for his two-month job in Switzerland and starts on Thursday.
O and I actually said our informal goodbyes yesterday. I was on a long break in the teachers’ room when he walked by, so he came in and we chatted for a while about he past two years, about exams and also about the future. We exchanged email addresses and are going to keep in touch, hopefully meeting for lunch from time to time after her returns to our country-not-to-be-named - distance, time and funds permitting.
As I’ve been sitting here typing this, I’ve (selfishly) grown a bit sad realising that O has left our school - students like him are few and far between. We’ve just graduated a fine young man and have unleashed him on the world. Days like this are really what being a teacher is all about.