My Favourite Teachers

This week, it was World Teacher Day. There are several teachers I remember from school days who have had a lasting effect on me.

Meet three good teachers who stood out to me, two from school and one from college: –

 Mr Paige – English Teacher

Mr Paige taught me in my first years in secondary school. He was a short, balding man with glasses that looked like the bottom of old bottles.  He always wore a sports jacket and seemed to have little patience with people, although that was mostly an appearance.

Initially, I think I was quite scared of him and he had high expectations of us.

When it came to English, I was in the next to top set unlike Maths, where I was in the bottom set! I loved reading and didn’t mind writing, but I was always chastised for not writing enough. I would write what I needed to say with little embellishment or description. So, generally I got ‘C’s for my work and a comment that I needed to add more interest.

One time he set us a task to write a story and we had three different scenarios to choose from. I chose one about going on a jungle trek.  I have no idea why on earth I chose that, because I wasn’t a fan of animal or jungles, but I think we may have read something in RE about missionaries in Africa which had captured my imagination.  However, the main point of this task was learning how to plan a story. We had to plan out the story in detail before we wrote it. Something completely new, but it made sense.

I was so pleased when we had our work returned to us. I got a B+.  By Mr Paige’s standards this was very good – he rarely gave A’s. 

Now, having published my first novel this year I hope Mr Paige is looking down on me and smiling. I planned my story out before starting, and I’m now doing the same with the next novel which is in progress.

Mrs Wagner – A level Art Teacher.

Mrs Wagner was a wonderful lady, very easy going, allowing us to listen to the radio as we worked and also letting us chat – as long as we worked, which we did. 

An excellent teacher, she would always explain things well, show us examples of work that used the same techniques that she was asking us to use. Her History of Art lessons were amazing, and I found them fascinating. The majority of the knowledge I have about art was learnt during her lessons.

This wasn’t my best subject, in fact I was probably the only one in the class who wasn’t going to Art college, but that made no difference in the care she gave each one of us.

Sadly, Mrs Wagner died not long after retiring. I only learned this after writing to her to thank her for her teaching, due to which, I had managed to support a teacher in my job. I cried when I read her husband’s reply telling me she had died, but he thanked me for the lovely letter I’d sent, saying how much it meant to him. I can still picture her, in the art room sharing her lively enthusiasm for art.

Manola Grecul – Piano teacher at Music College

Manola, was my piano teacher at the Royal Manchester College of Music.  Not much older than me, probably only 10 years older at the most, she changed my piano playing dramatically.

She had been all set to become a professional pianist, but sadly her career was cut short, when after a holiday trip, and an accident to one of her hands, the nerves were damaged beyond repair. For a pianist, that is devastating. She couldn’t control her hand in the say she had previously, and couldn’t rely on it to be able to perform the repertoire required for professional pianists.

Instead of giving up, she turned her upset into something positive. She learned to understand the importance of training muscles, and muscle memory, which she then used in her piano teaching.

At college, there was a hierarchy of teachers. Performers got the better students; the first-study students and other teachers got the second and third-study students. (First study means it is the students main instrument; second – they have two instruments and third – three).

Not all performers are good teachers. Shock horror! 

I was a second-study student – my other instrument being the harp.  The first piano teacher I had, had been a performer (seemingly a hundred years ago), and her style of teaching was for her to play to me. Eventually I asked if I could change teachers, and I wanted to be able to have two first studies – harp and piano.  To cut a long story short, I was accepted, and given Manola as my teacher. She was pleased, because she now had a first-study student – which meant, she would get others – if I passed.

The way she taught me was revolutionary to me, and without going into long descriptions, the way that I successfully taught the piano when I left college. She was brilliant.

We still swap Christmas cards each year.

All three of these teachers have impacted on my life and my three different careers, and I’m eternally grateful to them all.

Do you have a teacher you fondly remember?