Weʼre raising £10,000 to help me go to my dream school
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I first heard about Brockwood when my friend was telling me that her two sisters were about to join the school. I had just turned twelve years old and although I had no idea where my life was taking me I was mesmerized by the idea of a school in the countryside with, in my mind total freedom in learning. My friend and I started planning our lives in Brockwood together and it was settled, someday I was going to be in this magical, dreamlike school.
Eventually, life interjected and I decided I would wait a few years longer to fulfil my desire of leaving the chaos of London for the seemingly idyllic school. At this point in time I was spending my days at a Rudolf Steiner School, a school in which my very foundations were built. There, we were taught to appreciate and take advantage of nature with our weekly walks on Hampstead Heath, encouraging us to make use of our freedom as children. We would listen to stories, read by our teacher and then paint what we imagined the world described in the story looked like. We would have festivals where we danced round the Maypole and were part of plays and would sing enchanting folk songs. The list could go on and on. This of course, all took place from the age of about 4 (in Kindergarten) to the earlier years of primary school.
I enjoyed these years greatly, but when secondary school began and I turned twelve, as with most adolescents something in my mind turned sour and I decided Steiner school was no longer the right place for me. I joined a new school mid-way through the academic year that had just been set up in 2013 in Hackney which, lightly put, was a shock. People spoke differently, talked about different things and different activities were thought of as ‘fun’. For the first year of this school it was as if I was watching a film, a film that made me curious, sad and angry and also amazed, but I had no role in this film because my lines wouldn’t reach the people I was talking to. I experienced our class making several teachers break down in frustration, shouting, excluding and just giving up and crying in an attempt to control the class of misbehaving kids, I witnessed as new rules and punishments and rewards were put in place daily to tackle behaviour, I was present in the class discussion reminding us of the dangers of carrying a knife after a boy in my class was sent to a school for special attention after threatening and almost injuring someone with a knife. On this topic also, I could go on and on and on.
But somehow through the sadness I felt at watching so many injustices and so many mistakes made I wouldn’t exchange my experience at this school for anything. I had amazing experiences with people I never thought I would have, I made friendships that I can see lasting for the rest of my life and I learnt how powerful and incredible the world is and how important it is to acknowledge it with a completely open mind.
It is around this time when I started thinking about Brockwood again, I wanted to apply but knew the financial pressure I would put on my parents would be too much, so I read about Krishnamurti and his philosophies and now after having experienced a Rudolf Steiner school and state school in Hackney, his words strongly resonated with me and I vowed that education would be my passion in life and I would go wherever this new direction would take me. After this, it might be good to note, I spent about a month and a half in a Catholic girls school. My mum had become a devoted Catholic over the years and was eager to guide me to the religion, I think I had heard too much about the many different beliefs to, in my case, blindly follow a religion. If I was to be Catholic or part of any religion it would have to be my own initiative. So I went to this school, but left shortly after I was made aware that some of the stereotypical Catholic school stories were true and I came to the conclusion that perhaps school should be a place with people of many different cultures and religions and philosophies otherwise a person isn’t really finding their life path themself.
And as if God sent I was accepted into a highly recommended school with a reputation for academic excellence and creativity. Meaning that just in time for GCSEs I was enrolled in a school that would provide me with a place to nurture my academic side. I spent two years as a part of this school and the GCSE course in which I took History, Music, French, Art, and the compulsory subjects like English, Maths and the Sciences.
But now all this time has passed and I find myself with my last chance to attend the school I’ve been waiting so long to join. I was thorough this time. I had completed all my research and reading on the school and its founder so it was time to visit and experience what had been said. As part of the schools program I spent one week as though I was a student at the school and was mesmerized. The almost familial love between the students, their clear determination and initiative, the compassion and mindfulness of the teaching, the beautiful school grounds…
I believe I could do wonderful things with a place at Brockwood, I would appreciate every second, and similarly to my experience at Steiner I would carry the lessons and friendships and inspiration further into my life and in that way repay the world for it’s kindness of granting me a place at the school of my dreams.
My parents immigrated to London where they met and where I was born, but separated when I was four years old. Their toxic relation has been a fragment of my upbringing and although I have lead a privileged life because of my Steiner education the full attention of my now single, unemployed mother, my fathers determined contribution, the difficulty of the situation has carried on throughout my life ending in pain and a torn family.
In terms of my application to the school, I have been accepted, I have received an estimated 16% bursary and I have a mother who is devastated at the thought of not being able to grant her child the education that I am so stubbornly dreaming of. It’s hard because I know that it’s the financial situation of my family that has prevented me from paying for the school fees which admittedly are very expensive, but I can’t help but wish I could do something, as a teenager my priorities are set to be learning and spending time with friends and family and there’s only so much I can do.
I am 16 years old now and have been dreaming of the school that I described long before I knew it existed. I say dream because maybe deep inside I knew reality could take it away from me so easily. This is my last opportunity before the latter may become true. In September it will be mandatory for me to make the final decision where to take myself if not to Brockwood. This is my last resort.
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Elizabeth Maggio-Kotkowska started crowdfunding