How time has flown! This is Romeo in 1992 - his first year of school. Romeo was five years old. He is now 23.
Skippy was the name given to the Agile Wallaby joey he is holding in the pillow slip. Skippy's mother was hit and killed by a car and Skippy was found, hopping around, on the side of the road, looking very lonely, vulnerable and confused. Baby wallabies are born in a very underdeveloped state - hairless and tiny. When Skippy was adopted by Romeo's class he had very little hair. By the time this photo was taken he had grown quite a bit and settled in to classroom life very nicely.
Romeo's lovely teacher Mrs W, (her son had found Skippy) got permission to care for Skippy because he is a protected species and had to get a special milk formula that suited his metabolism. She hung a pillow slip in the classroom for him (a fresh one every day) and he would execute a careful somersault into it in the same way that he would have rolled into his mother's pouch. At night Mrs W took him home to care for him.
Not only did Skippy thrive in the classroom, the children learnt to care for him and learnt a lot about marsupials. Mrs W is still a great teacher who takes advantage of situations (like caring for Skippy) to create a theme for the students. Arithmetic, writing, music, reading, poetry - all had a marsupial theme until Skippy grew into a healthy young wallaby and had to go to a new home to prepare for his release back into the wild. Lots of learning took place while Skippy bounced around between the desks and busied himself getting to know the children.
Yesterday I bumped into Mrs W at the shopping centre and we spent at least an hour standing in the aisle (trying not to inconvenience other shoppers) while we reminisced and caught up on all of the news about our respective families. Mrs W taught each of our kids in infant classes and knows as much about their childhoods as we know ourselves. For each of them she will always be their favourite teacher.
I wonder how long wallabies live and if Skippy or his progeny are still hopping around somewhere in our great outdoors?