My last years of primary school. I truly felt like a grown up, even though this was only the half way hurdle of my schooling journey! This was an exciting time to be Jordan Ristovski as you’ll soon find out I enjoyed academic success, I had some awesome teachers and my sister Jelena would be welcomed into the world around this time.
The Fifth Grade was a unique one for me. I did not have the traditional 1 teacher per class as many experienced in primary school, but 2 instead. Deputy Principal Mrs. Morritt was my teacher from Monday to Wednesday, and the young Ms. Dudgeon was my Thursday and Friday teacher. Felt weird having homework assigned by one teacher and having another one check it later that week!
It’s around this time I can brag I was the best speller in primary school. So much so that I didn’t sit in the regular spelling class with my peers, nor did I do the advanced spelling with a few talented students. I did the special Mastery Class, which was only myself and Mrs. Morritt in her office, doing spelling tasks from high school textbooks and other grown up books too advanced for a primary school level. This is one of my proudest achievements and I’ve still got those books stashed away somewhere.
Mrs. Morritt was a stern, but fair teacher. She was also the physical education teacher at our very small school and she was renowned for making you do the physical activity, whether you liked it or not. She always wanted you to do her best and I was so proud when she eventually became principal after I had left school. I still visit her time to time to this day.
Ms. Dudgeon was an awesome teacher, and I’ll never forget what she did to teach the idea of tolerance and respect for other cultures. At the end of term party, I had brought my Macedonian music CD, and some of my Australian peers rudely told me they didn’t want to listen to that Wog stuff!
Ms. Dudgeon, a Polish lady, didn’t have a bar of it and made the other kids put my CD in the radio, and demanded I teach my whole class to dance a Macedonian Oro. It was so satisfying watching this class dance a Oro, get a lesson about multicultural Australia, and learn to properly respect those who are different.
In the Fifth Grade, my dearest sister Jelena would be born, ten years my junior. She was a quiet baby, until she hit 6 months and has been the same loud, annoying and bossy self ever since. I know that’s rude of me to talk about my sister like that, but if you asked her the same question, she’d probably say the same thing! She was a welcome blessing and miracle for our family that even in times of darkness, good things can still happen.
My last grade of primary school would roll around the next year, and my last teacher would be Ms. Plesa. I would relate so much to her as she happened to be half Macedonian, just like myself. When I struggled to come to the terms with the very conservative aspects of Macedonian identity and culture, Ms. Plesa would relate to me so much and do an amazing job to explain to me that any Macedonian child, no matter where they may be in this world, is going through the same thing. And to also be very loud and proud of who we are and where we come from.
Primary school was an interesting time. It taught me the idea of how many people struggle to accept things that are different to their comfort zone. My bullying experiences taught me I was a tough nut, and not a loner like my bullies tried telling me. And it also taught me there was a whole wide world out there beyond school discos, book week dress ups and friendly teachers.
My high school chapters would be next, and open up a whole new can of worms. One where Jordy would rise up and shock many people.