“One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”
– Albert Einstein (LIFE Magazine, 1955)
When Bill Gates attended View Ridge Elementary (School) in Seattle, he was nowhere close to being the successful, confident and well-spoken personality that he is today. He was “nerdy” and unconfident, tormented by other deficits, unlike his other friends.
It was at this stage that a kind Librarian called Mrs. Blanche Caffiere decided to mentor him. She embraced and accepted young Bill, and slowly instilled in him the priceless love for knowledge. Mrs. Caffiere fuelled Bill’s passion for reading, encouraging him to ask introspective questions. She built a beautiful, personal rapport with the hesitant young boy, always being a genuine listener, as Bill fondly recalls.
Today, we know Bill Gates as a celebrated business magnate, author, humanitarian… amidst a never-ending list of accolades. However, Gates would have been an unknown figure in the annals of history, had it not been for the much lesser-known Mrs. Caffiere.
She was an ordinary teacher with an extraordinary heart, a tower of strength and wisdom for her students, and an asset to her institution.
In 2006, shortly after her 100th birthday, Mrs. Caffiere passed away. Bill Gates did not fail to personally thank her, for her indelible impact on his life. She was a towering legend, despite her humble and meek profile.
May I conclude my message by encouraging all the staff of every school, to be another ‘Mrs. Caffiere’, who encouraged her students to ponder, imagine and think; who made her students feel safe under her wings, strengthened by a beautiful one-on-one rapport.
May I also encourage parents to continue striving to nourish their children with affirmation, protection and care, instilling in them a sense of wonder and awe for all that is around them, ever curious to ask questions and seek satisfying answers. For, after all, the home is the child’s first school.
Aniket Deb Roy
St. Thomas’ Day School