South Unit: Fanning the Flames of Creativity

South Unit: Fanning the Flames of Creativity

A Story by thuaners

there was a writing competition on Figment to write about a place that has inspired you. the word count was 555 words.i wrote this piece on my school and its wonderful teachers & went over the limit:)


Write about a place that has inspired you?  Well there is one place that comes to mind, one place that comes to the forefront. If the mind is a pool of water, this place is the cork that effortless bobs to the top.

South Unit.

In my primary school, Spring Valley Primary School, this place that I can recollect with ease, the classes were divided into 3 buildings.  North, East and South Unit (I think! It has been decades, so please don’t quote me). Let’s just pretend that my memory is crystal clear and always accurate and we shall continue smoothly.

South Unit.  A place that I could never do justice with words.  It was the best environment I could have ever hoped for, to instil a love of stories, creativity, writing and drawing.  And it was due to the fact that the teachers were amazing.  When I was young, I looked at these teachers as if they were the smartest people that had ever lived.  They were worldly wise, they knew all the answers, possessed all the wisdom in the universe.  I still feel that way about my primary school teachers.

The teachers in particular at SVPS that influenced me were Mr Tardrew, my grade 4 teacher, Mr Anthony in grade 5 and finally Mrs Toomey in grade 6.  I cherished my years under their tutelage and owe so much to them, perhaps more than they will ever know.

South Unit was a place of safety.  Within the walls of that warm building, were 3 classrooms, separated by dividing walls.  No amount of words I could ever write can sum up my love of my time there.

Lets start with Mr Tardrew.  He was a man with a moustache.  He was so passionate.  He created this game for us kids to play, to inspire us to read.  We each had our names written on a piece of card.  For each book that we read that year, he would give us one paper clip to attach to the card.  It really motivated us to read, at least I can say it did for me!  Together with Samantha Van Cuylenberg, my classmate, I remember we were the first to have our paperclip chain reach all the way to the ground.  Actually I remember her name tag reached the ground a few minutes before me.  It didn’t bother me at all.  Thinking back, she was really competitive with me in academic things.  I didn’t really think a lot about it at the time, but looking back at it now, it really was a good thing and I like it.

I still remember Mr Tardrew quizzing us a little bit, when we told him what books we had read, in order to earn our paperclips.  I remember his eyes lit up when he saw that I’d read the Moomintroll series (a series that is still very fond in my heart to this day).

When he saw that I had read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, he sent me to the principal and said to me, “Just show him what you’ve read and see what he says!”.  Speaking of that, I remember the Principal, Mr Burston, also loved the Chronicles of Narnia (like me!), and would often come in and speak to me about it.  I remember he told me his favourite was ‘the Horse and His Boy’.  Now that I have grown up, I must say I really do love that story a lot too.  There is just something about it I love.  I love that it is not about the four Pevensie children, but they just make a cameo appearance.

I was reading a lot in order to get those paperclips, but in doing so, I experienced so many charming stories.  To this day, my love of junior fiction has never died.  And I am so fond of stories written in an archaic british style, because many of the stories I read in primary school were written in that way.

Mr Tardrew was also the man who introduced me to the wonderful world of Roald Dahl.  I remember at the end of the day, he would read a little bit of the BFG to us.  When he started, I had no idea what this story was about, but by the end, I was a fan of Roald Dahl and went on to devour every single Roald Dahl book I could get my hands on.

Back to the paperclips, I still remember when my card had reached the ground, Mr Tardrew printed out a certificate with the heading ‘Attaboy’ and ‘Attagirl’ for Samantha and I.  I’m not sure exactly when my passion for story telling began, but my grade 4 teacher certainly fanned the flame a great deal!

Next up was Mr Anthony.  By this stage, the kids in South Unit were writing little stories, and illustrating them and the teachers would bind them together for us to make little books.  And during silent reading after lunch, we would read each others books!  This is definitely one of the things that instilled the seed in me that made me want to become a writer.  To recapture this feeling of writing, creating, drawing and sharing stories.  My books always had the company name ‘Long Wings Inc.’ on them, (my middle name is Long and my surname is Nguyen).  And all the illustrations I drew, I would hide a little wing in it, copying what the cartoonist Jeff Hook did in the Herald Sun newspapers (his cartoons always had a hidden hook in them that was fun to search for!).

I remember we would get so creative with these books, even making the little books themselves different shapes.  I distinctly remember making a book the shape of a trapeze, with fold out pages for the illustrations.

I remember Mr Anthony taking me aside one day, and sitting me down and trying to convince me to apply for a scholarship to one of the high end private schools, rather than the local public school.  I could see in his eyes, and I can still see in my memory �"and feel it�"that he really wanted me to give, what he saw as my gift for writing, the best shot to be nurtured.  I wanted to go to the local high school with my friends and I did end up going there.  And things did turn out alright in the end, but my creativity did take a hiatus of many years, although I don’t think it was due to the school that I chose but rather due to my own loss of focus and lack of effort in my creativity.

Nevertheless, I will never ever forget the true care he showed for me, it is a gift that I cherish.

And finally there was Mrs Toomey.  I love her like a boy loves his mum.  She was so proud of me.  I can still feel her beaming when she spoke to me.  In those days I was so studious.  I always had my hand up when it was question time.  I had long forgotten this, but now that I think about it, I was a little bit Hermione during class times.  I have my parents to thank for that.  They always made me study all year and over the summer holidays.  I remember days during summer when I would be in my room, working through maths and english books my parents had bought for me.  It really did pay off, because my grades were excellent in those days.  If I could go back, I would not change a thing actually.  I have very fond memories of studying.  Alone and also my mum would often tutor me when she had time (actually she was so busy with work, but always made time to help me study).

What I remember most about Mrs Toomey was just her beaming pride when she spoke to me, I can still see it.  She loved my stories, especially the Pe-Man story I wrote about a penguin that was based on the He-Man cartoon show I loved watching in the mornings.  Oh, I remember Mr Tardrew and Mrs Toomey would get me to read the stories I had written to the entire South Unit fairly often!  Even when Mr Tardrew had left our school to teach at Carrum, he came back one time, with his students from that school, and got me to read my story entitled, ‘You’re Laughing’ to them.

So I think by now, perhaps you have felt my glowing memories of South Unit at Spring Valley Primary School.  There is still a primary school in the same location but it is called something else now.  And besides, the school that exists in my memory is no longer there.  The children and teachers have all moved on.  The place that I recall so fondly exists only in my memory.  But it is a memory that will stay with me as long as I live.  Those teachers, who treated their job as more than a job, created an environment that lit a creative flame that still burns inside me two and a half decades later.

I will write stories, I will draw, and if I ever am lucky enough to ever meet Mr Tardrew, Mr Anthony and Mrs Toomey, I will thank them and hopefully they will see the beaming coming from me this time, when I talk to them about these wonderful teachers I had.


© 2015 thuaners

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Added on February 16, 2015
Last Updated on February 16, 2015
Tags: spring valley primary school, tardrew, anthony, toomey, teachers, love, inspiration




Currently writing a fantasy adventure story online (called 'Passion of the Liger' :) ). hope you enjoy reading it ^^ more..

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A Chapter by thuaners