“Always Be Kind”
South Hull Teacher carries permanent reminder
For many, the first day back to school marks the end of summer -- and the beginning of a whole new year. For teachers, like South Hull’s Chris Beauchamp, it can be a hectic day, fmixing familiar faces with the eager expressions of the new. August 31, 2015, was a special first-day for Mr. Beauchamp for two reasons: one, it marked his first year as a full-time teacher at Aylmer’s South Hull Elementary, and, second, it was the day he met Jacob Randell.
Each August 31st, teachers line up with their students outside to greet them. Jacob’s enthusiasm attracted Beauchamp immediately. He was soon to learn of the hardships Jacob had endured just to be standing in that line: at five years old, Jacob was diagnosed with a genetic brain tumour, and had to undergo a gruelling series of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, and radiation treatment. A few years later, his younger sister Sophia was diagnosed with the same cancerous tumour, and had to endure her own battle. And as the school year developed, Beauchamp not only learned Jacob’s story, but initiated his own part in this saga. That very year, Jacob had to be hospitalized again, so Mr. Beauchamp and his class created a card to let Jacob know how much they cared. When he returned, Jacob greeted his homeroom teacher with a huge hug.
As time went on, their bond grew. During the annual Terry Fox Run later that year Mr. Beauchamp told his students how closely Jacob resembled Terry, both in perseverance and strength of character.
By 2018, Jacob’s bond with his grade-six homeroom teacher had strengthened so much that Mr. Beauchamp, with Jacob by his side, had their meeting date, August 31, 2015, tattooed on his inner forearm, written in Jacob’s handwriting and coupled with three words from Jacob’s grade 6 graduation speech, “Always be kind”. “Those words had many of us in tears,” the teacher noted; “he thanked us for helping him through those horrible experiences and left us with a simple message, ‘Treat others the way you wish to be treated -- always be kind’.”
Mr. Beauchamp explains that the tattoo honours the close bond they have made, and ensures that Jacob’s story is not forgotten. Whenever people ask about the tattoo, he will be able to speak of Jacob’s selflessness, positivity, and perseverance. The student has taught the teacher.
Beauchamp adds that Jacob also reminds him that everyone is fighting their own battles, and that offering a safe space and a kind classroom environment can be of immense assistance. He sees Jacob’s story inspiring the kids to understand that obstacles can always be overcome.
South Hull’s graduation awards include a Citizenship award, which Mr. Beauchamp sees as one of the most important, and which he proposed renaming for Jacob. His staff members did not hesitate. Jacob, who had recently been diagnosed with yet another cancer, kidney carcinoma, stood proudly to present the award at this June’s Grade 6 graduation ceremony.