When I appeared on the seventeenth episode of the BronyVille Podcast, I mentioned as part of the normal guest introduction that Cheerilee was my favorite character. I gave a few reasons, all of which were legitimate reasons for why I liked her as a character, but I mentioned in passing that I had deeper reasons for this appreciation and would be writing an article about it. Well, this is that article, actually.
My appreciation for Cheerilee extends from personal factors involving my appreciation for teachers and people in the teaching profession, along with the fact that out of all the background ponies she has among the most speaking roles (Trixie excluded). But Cheerilee as a character, as well as a symbol, has a much deeper meaning to me. It actually relates to parts of this community, Ponychan in particular. It involves a bit of a story, though if you stick with me through this one, I think you might find a small bit more appreciation for this wonderful community.
Back in late April I came out of my lurking hole on Ponychan to make my first thread. It was a very simple thread, a few lines of text with a Google Docs link to a short Letter that I had written to the community talking about some issues that I thought needed some attention. At the time I was not a well known poster and figured the thread would die with few readers and fewer responses. Boy, was I wrong. A certain mod took notice of the thread, and stickied it up at the top of the board that i had posted it on, allowing it to be seen by everybody on the site. Naturally, I was surprised with this and I sat at my computer for a while, watching replies to the thread and the view count in Google Docs tick ever upward.
Those of you who spent time on Ponychan that day will probably remember the argument and drama that it sparked. This was not my intention when writing it; I had merely wanted to point a few things out. Suffice to say that within a few hours of posting it, the thread and the chat function in the Document were abuzz with argument. It was at this point in time that I met a certain Ponychan Moderator.
This Mod popped in to the Google Docs chat and, seeing that I was there as well, struck up a conversation with me. They revealed themselves as the moderator who had stickied my thread and thanked me for writing what I had written. They told me quite directly that what I had written was something worth reading and worth writing. They admitted that I could have done it in a less dramatic way, and pointed out a few mistakes in my writing, but after all was said and done, they assured me that my letter was a good piece of writing.
“A+ Letter, my student,” !!Cheerilee told me.
I needed that, I think, at that time. Before !!Cheerilee had popped into the chat I had been watching, extremely disappointed, as people ignored things I’d written, opting instead to argue pointlessly about things that shouldn’t have mattered. Things like the furry members of the community, the Brony “creed” of Love and Tolerance, and hatred for shipping. At that very point in time I had considered simply never posting on Ponychan again. I had said my piece; if members of the community and I were going to have conflicts of opinions so harshly, then I figured it would simply be better to stick to watching the news on EqD and saving pictures from Ponibooru.
But here was a moderator, roleplaying as a background character, telling me that I deserved to be heard.
It is in many ways a strange reason to like a character. !!Cheerilee was by no means a representation of the character from the show. And truthfully, it’s only one of the reasons why I think Cheerilee is a great character. But to continue that line of thinking, we have to ask… What is Cheerilee? Who is Cheerilee?
At first glance, one would obviously say that she is a teacher. Yes, that she is. But what is a teacher? What does a teacher do? A teacher’s job is twofold. Firstly, their job is to, as one would expect, teach. To impart their knowledge and their experiences to their students in the hopes that their students can use these to better themselves. But there is another side to a teacher’s job, and that is to nurture. A teacher must care for their students by building up their character. They must nurture their students and build their confidence, and give them the skills to better themselves emotionally.
And so, as Cheerilee rewarded her students by giving them awards for trying their hardest at the talent show (even though one group didn’t perform terribly well), so did !!Cheerilee tell me that my letter deserved an A (despite its many flaws).
Teachers make us who we are, from the moment we step into our first classroom. We never forget their shining faces, those wonderful smiles, and all the amazing things they show us as we grow and develop. A good teacher has patience; more patience than anybody in the world. They have to be ready to slow down and help those who have a hard time grasping educational concepts. But more than anything, they must be able to meet every day and every student with a smile and words of kindness. Even when a student has trouble, or cannot find their way, the teacher must always be able to find the words with which to encourage them.
And in many ways, isn’t that what a Brony is? A person who meets life with a smile on their face, extends a hand to the downtrodden with kind words and internet hugs? A person who, while their fandom is built around a show for little girls, will always wear the title of “Brony” proudly? If you look back on all the weekly articles I’ve put up, you will see that there are many of us who, like the greatest teachers we have had, always find the words to help us learn and grow. In this respect, Cheerilee represents the very true nature of what it is to be a Brony.
Think of a gardener who plants a seed and waters it, caring for their garden. In this respect, a teacher’s garden is their class. They sprinkle knowledge upon their students like water and shine bright rays of joy on them, so that their flowers may twist ever upwards towards the sun.
Flowers, with smiling faces.