‘It was a fork in the road for me’ - which school teacher meant to the most to you?

Pupils at work in the classroom. Picture: JackF

Pupils at work in the classroom. Picture: JackF - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lessons taught by an inspiring teacher can stay with a pupil through much of their adult life. We asked six of our journalists to recall the teacher who meant something special to them.

Work in the classroom. Picture: Getty Images

Work in the classroom. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

There is one teacher I will always remember from when I was a child, about to enter my teens - Mr Buxton who taught me at St Teresa's First and Middle School in Harrow, London in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Mr Buxton sparked my interest in history and used to bring subjects to life with his enthusiasm. I will always remember him bringing in a Samurai outfit with a sword to illustrate Japanese history and he allowed us all the chance to don the outfit and pretend to be a warrior.

He always encouraged us to use our imagination in history classes, such as creating a German fortification in the Second World War out of paper.

By bringing history to life it made topics fascinating to discover and I recall many times rushing home to my parents to tell them what I had learned and ask if they remembered the events featured.


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Anthony Carroll

Head of modern foreign languages Jackie Lambert teaching French to year seven students at Neatherd H

Head of modern foreign languages Jackie Lambert teaching French to year seven students at Neatherd High School, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

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I'll always remember my year seven tutor, Mr Claye.

Not being the most easily manageable child, I seldom saw eye-to-eye with my teachers, but he was different.

Whether it was our similar tastes in music or just that he saw potential in me, but he always seemed able to make me tick. He was patient, made me want to work hard, and when I did act up he dealt with me constructively – I still recall sanding down tables after my pen 'accidentally' marked them.

A few years after leaving the school, I discovered our fondness was mutual.

I remembered I had left my keyboard at the school, so went to collect it

I was told Mr Claye had died, though he wasn't an old man, but had stored it away, hoping I would come to collect it and he could see how I was getting on. I still have it.

David Hannant

Our usual teacher was off with ill health and so we had to manage part of our final GCSE English year with a supply teacher.

Unfortunately I don't remember her name, but I do remember the English homework assignment she set the class.

We had to write about ourselves ten years in the future. It was the first creative writing assignment we had been given in a while so I leapt on the chance to be as expressive as possible.

The subject matter I wrote about was certainly was a far cry from Pulitzer worthiness but it was the teacher's feedback which made me realise this could be more than just a hobby.

This supply teacher had gone the extra mile to give detailed feedback and supportive, encouraging comments.

Thanks to her, I have never stopped writing creatively – a passion which started on my own but grew from her enthusiasm.

Donna-Louise Bishop

The teacher I will always remember is Mr Dutton at St Helens Primary School in Bluntisham near Cambridge.

He was my year three teacher, and not only brought me down to earth with a bump, but set me on a course for a lot of things I've achieved since then.

He was a wonderful combination of having a brilliant sense of humour, but also not suffering fools, which helped a young Neil learn where to draw the line between mucking about and working hard.

His rating of me on my school report says it all really where he wrote that I was often 'one joke too many'.

This was perfectly demonstrated after completing a good piece of work when he said: 'Neil, you're a treasure – go and bury yourself.'

I promptly did this by making a den under a large pile of coloured paper.

Neil Perry

I always liked reading fiction when I was studying my GCSEs and was keen to study English literature during my A-levels at Thurston Community College in Suffolk.

Before embarking on the qualification, I had high hopes for what I would learn about different Shakespeare plays and other classic fiction novels.

As soon as my first lesson with Mr Manning started, I knew I would not be disappointed.

He did not mince his words and was clearly passionate after sending out a fellow student who declared, 'I don't like reading'.

Mr Manning did not only teach the A-level syllabus – he spoke about so many different aspects of the arts.

One of the best things he did was exposing us to professional actors performing Othello and The Winter's Tale by Shakespeare, rather than getting us to read the plays in our awkward voices.

I have happy memories of my English literature A-level.

Sophie Wyllie

Many people's most inspirational teacher taught them for years: mine was about for a few months.

Mr Mackay was a supply teacher who provided cover in English at Cromer High when Mr Butt was sick.

For four years I'd found English lessons procedural and uninspiring - read book, write about it, play up in class because you're bored, repeat to fade...

Then Mr Mackay pitched up and returned my first essay with the phrase 'turgid prose' in red ink. It could have been a red rag, for I was provoked.

A heated discussion followed, during which he challenged me to enjoy, not endure, the English language: to feel its rhythms and relish writing it.

It was a fork in the road for me. It led to A-level English and 25 years in journalism. The English language is my passion, solace, friend, accuser, conscience and my delight. Mr Mackay is to blame.

Steve Downes

Is there a teacher you remember? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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