Last Friday Simon and I (along with Jonty and Flynn) had the privilege of attending the Kings Meadows High School (KMHS) memorial service held for Aaron. It started at 2pm and right before the students filed into the hall, Lisa and her family and friends were seated at the front. The students walked in by grade and they were so quiet and respectful and well behaved. I remember thinking if high school kids were like that all the time, I wouldn't mind being a teacher. ;)
I was feeling a little bit emotional and could feel tears brimming as the students all settled in their seats and the assistant principal got up to commence the service. But as soon as she started speaking, all I can remember her saying was teacher-mentor-friend and from that moment, I was beaming from ear to ear as I listened to the beautiful words that were spoken by her and Aaron's former principal, Charlotte.
Some of Aaron's students also got up and spoke and I will never forget the story of how one boy said he was on grade 7 camp and was refusing to get up in the morning and telling us that most teachers would have gone in and started growling at him to get up but that Mr King came in and farted on him and that got him up real quick.
What touched me the most was when the office lady, Robyn spoke. I could tell that she was missing him terribly and can imagine that the office would now be quite dull and boring without the larger than life "Kingy" around. She told us about the pranks and jokes he would play on her and the other office girls. How once after one of them had left for the day, he came in and poured all the hole punch confetti into her desk. How one Christmas, a little bear called Snowy played Christmas music which the office staff found really annoying and when Aaron found that out, he would use any excuse to rough up the bear so it would play the annoying tune.
He made the office staff feel just as loved and important as his students.
Aaron obviously had a gift.
A gift of humour that was uplifting and cheeky at the same time. A gift of teasing his students (or bagging them out for going for Collingwood) that was uplifting in that it made them laugh and feel valued all at the same time. No wonder he could get away with his jokes.
(sorry iphone quality photos)
We watched a few slideshows of Aaron's time at KMHS, firstly some general photos over the years at KMHS and the second slideshow was of his time as coach of the footy team. The photos had been put together with some of his favourite music - it seems the students knew him well.
After the service we went to the oval with just the grade 9s (as Aaron was going to be their grade leader this year), for a balloon release. The teacher who spoke said it was okay to be sad and we had a minute's silence for the students to think about Aaron.
And then we released the balloons.
It was lovely to see some of the students come up to Lisa afterwards and ask her for a hug. I'm sure they are in awe of the lady married to "Kingy". :)
And Kobe, the ray of sunshine played on the cricket pitch.
Over the weeks since Aaron has passed away, I had made the comment to Lisa that I wish I had taken more notice that he was this amazing teacher. I said that all these years we had being going to the gym together and doing other stuff and I just took for granted that Aaron was at school while we hung out just doing what teachers do. (and I know coming from a family of teachers, they work incredibly hard).
But I wish I had known before what I know now and what was confirmed to me during the memorial service. That Aaron was not just a good dedicated teacher (like so many teachers are), he was an elite in his field. He saved kids lives. He changed kids lives. He inspired them to be better, to do better. He was their teacher. He was their mentor. He was their friend. And all from a guy who said he didn't want to do education because "he hated kids".
Aaron was definitely a legend of a teacher. A legend to be so sorely missed by staff and students alike.