The first I heard of Marija was from her older sister, Galena. I taught Galena five consecutive years (grade 8 through 12). I have nothing but great (GREAT!!) memories from teaching her all those years. When I found out that Galena had a younger sister who was coming to KG I was intrigued, of course, but also sceptical that she could be as amazing as her older sister. I almost felt sorry for her: "pretty big shoes to fill", etc.
The first time I encountered Marija I realized that she and Galena were very different people. The first time I remember seeing Marija she was playing in a Senior Girls' Basketball game (and the thought of Galena playing basketball... hahahahahaha!!!). What was truly impressive is that Marija was only in grade 9 at the time. If I remember correctly, the starters on the team included Saba D and Emily T (Grad 2013) and Kaede D (Grad 2015) and Marija (Grad 2016)! She got levelled by a girl on the other team at one point (a grade 12 girl, no doubt). Marija fell down hard but bounced back up smiling and laughing. I was really impressed with the confidence and the tenacity that Marija displayed at the time. And, not surprisingly, these are two qualities that Marija has displayed over and over again in the years since I first "met" her.
I did not actually teach Marija until grade 10 (and again in grades 11 and 12). One of the things that first struck me about her was how she had such a strong sense of "self" at such a (relatively) young age. Marija had (and has) very clear opinions about the world. She is thoughtful and fair. She speaks her mind but will also listen to what you have to say. She is, in my opinion, wise beyond her years.
Ten other things that I love about Marija:
- She has great taste in music!
- She loves to laugh and has an incredible sense of humour
- She is laid-back and doesn't take anything (or herself) too seriously
- She is considering living in my classroom full-time next year and acting as my (very poorly-paid) CS student. Sounds like a great idea to me!!
- She looks for the bright side in difficult situations.
- She does not dwell on disappointment and does not let it stop her / slow her down.
- She plays the piano and is almost as bashful about playing in public as I am (we have had some pretty funny conversations about this).
- She came on the France trip! And we have the same travelling style (take things as they come and enjoy the moment!). So much fun spending time with you, Marija!
- She seems genuinely happy to see me (almost) every day she comes to class. What more can you ask for! What a treat to be greeted warmly by Marija every class. I sure appreciate it MB!
- She cares about the environment and is doing something about it! Whether it is attending rallies (even if only to see this guy), reading books, or planning her future studies, Marija is an environmentalist at heart (and in action!).