Before we broke for February half-term, I had the pleasure of leading another full KS2 assembly, with children from Years 3 – 6 coming together for only the second time this year. Taking the opportunity to introduce our new value for the month – perseverance – I invited the children to learn a little more about the lives of some well-known role models who, despite their troubles, “kept going, even when things were tough”.
First, we spoke about JK Rowling, who – after the loss of her mother – was on government aid and could barely afford to feed her baby in 1994, just three years before the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was published. When Rowling was ‘shopping out’ her new book, she was so poor she couldn’t afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying for her 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to publishers. It was rejected dozens of times until finally, a small London publisher gave it a second chance after the CEO’s eight-year-old daughter fell in love with it.
We also studied the challenges Emily Blunt – the awarding winning actress who recent reprised the role of Mary Poppins – faced as a young child. Before Blunt was getting nominated for Golden Globes and landing leading roles on the stage and big screen, she could barely carry a conversation with her classmates. Between the ages of 7 and 14, Emily had a major stutter. As she told one reporter: “I was a smart kid, and had a lot to say, but I just couldn’t say it. It would just haunt me. I never thought I’d be able to sit and talk to someone like I’m talking to you right now.” But that all changed when one of her Secondary School teachers encouraged her to try out for the school play – a totally unappealing feat given the fact that she had such a hard time communicating. But the teacher kept gently pressing and suggested she try accents and character voices to help get the words out – and it worked! By the end of her teens, Blunt had overcome her stutter and went on to achieve the successful career she has now.
Finally, we delved into the life and legacy of Walt Disney, who was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Well… we know how that story ended!
So, what can we learn from the stories of these incredible people, who each suffered incredible heart-ache, but persevered despite all the challenges that lay in front of them? As a Key Stage, we all agreed that:
- Patience is key to success.
- Do things which make you happy.
- Sticking to something is really rewarding.
- Things which might seem impossible actually aren’t!
- Commitment and hard-work will pay off!
- Try again, and again, and – if necessary – again!