Michelle Phipps

The first thing I noticed was that the boy never smiled. He frowned, intensely, at everything and everybody. He put his head on the desk at the outset of every lesson and despite my best efforts to engage and involve him, he persisted in attempting to sleep.

I was a casual teacher at an inner city high school in the second year of my teaching career. I sought guidance from the deputy at my school.

On investigation it was revealed that the student's home circumstances were highly abusive and dysfunctional. My deputy was heavily involved in finding a new home for this at risk student.

Twelve months later I had found work at a new school and was standing on Strathfield railway station on my way home. A young man approached me, he was smiling broadly, obviously delighted to see me. It took me a moment to realise that this was the same young man who had never smiled. He grinned broadly at me and said, "Tell Sir I am doing an apprenticeship in fitting and turning, Tell Sir!. " I will never forget the happiness and peace in his face.

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