As it’s World Teachers’ Day, the Get My Grades Team couldn’t think of any better way to honour their favourite teachers or the teachers who had the biggest impact on their lives, than to write tributes about them!
Obviously we can’t name all the teachers across the World, but we still want to say thank you! Thank you for everything you do for all of us when we are your students. You nurture us, teach us, and help us grow into the best possible big-people we can be! You’re amazing humans, your hard work and dedication is invaluable. There are no words to tell you ALL, the impact you have on the lives of millions of students across the UK alone! Love, the Get My Grades Team xo
My medieval history teachers in Year 13 are particularly memorable. It may have helped that medieval history did not turn out to be the most popular subject in my school and so in Year 12 we has only six students and Year 13 it went down to just three. Nonetheless, both teachers were fascinating characters, whose lessons you could look forward to and always be surprised by.
Mr Arnold was teaching the ecclesiastical history of medieval England, not a topic which stands out as most thrilling. He had also taught Latin lower down the school. The wonderful thing about Mr Arnold, that stood out at A Level, was his astonishingly deep level of knowledge about not just his own subject but also other areas. He could discuss a twelfth century Archbishop as though he was a close friend and, in that same lesson, move on to talking about the intricate details of nuclear warfare. The abundance of detail and the masterful grasp of the subject has served as a model for me since.
Revd. Collier taught the other half of the course. He was also the school chaplain, famous for his periodic assemblies to the whole school, which combined a pertinent message with his famous props. In lessons, we would freely discuss the intricate details of medieval family trees, discussing William the Conqueror as though he were a modern politician. It seemed at times that we really had done no work at all, which was completely deceptive; we knew the relationships between early medieval royalty better than our own families and had an incredible grasp of the subject matter.
Since creating my UCAS account in Year 12, it’s been clear who my favourite teacher is as it is one of the security questions they ask! Between Years 10-13, Mr Drury was one of our Heads of Year at Colfe’s School. He was strict, yet fun, and I think it’s because of this that I still hold a great deal of respect for him. He always held the opinion that it was our effort that counted and that nobody else could do it for us, and it was this that helped me become more accountable for my own work. In Year 12, he became my Economics teacher. Unfortunately for us both I was absolutely terrible and there really was just no chance of me grasping the differences between Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, but he didn’t give up on me! John and I are still in contact with Mr Drury and to this day, I still feel SO uncomfortable calling him by his real name, instead of ‘Sir’, so he clearly did his job very well! Thank you!
My favourite teacher was my secondary school English teacher – Ms Thomas. She was small, but mighty. One of the main things I admired about Ms Thomas is that she really knew her stuff! From Shakespeare to UCAS to the examiner’s psyche – she knew it all. There was a deep-rooted respect I had for her because of this. I have loved studying English since I could remember, so to have a teacher who was enthusiastic and a specialist only furthered my enjoyment. She was a unique woman; fiercely abrupt, practical, honest and enjoyed giggling at her own jokes. Apart from some great knowledge and refining of my English skills, Ms Thomas instilled something else in me – the drive to always do better. She rarely ever praised me or said ‘well done’, but she challenged and pushed me to the point that I was always focused on improving. This just meant that when you did get the odd ‘well done’ from her, it held such value and literally meant the world.
One of my favourite teachers was a mathematics lecturer at my university: Yiannis Petridis. He taught us two courses: Complex Analysis, and Prime Numbers and their Distribution, which I always felt was an appropriate combination for a single lecturer to teach, as complex analysis serves as a solid foundation for analytic number theory. Yiannis was extremely passionate about the way he taught: unlike any other lecturers who taught me, he gave us several historical insights (sometimes in the form of physical handouts) into the motivation behind various big results – which many lecturers simply glossed over – and his narration of the proofs of these results was both concise and engaging (particularly as he often encouraged us to fill in the details), and every important result was further coupled with a historical framework, to ensure that we had a critical understanding of the progression of the proofs of the Prime Number Theorem, one of the most celebrated results in mathematics.
Yiannis’ resolute enthusiasm for analytic number theory was unparalleled by most: he perfectly illustrated the beauty of complex analysis (and beauty is a rather important concept for a mathematician!), and as a teacher, it was abundantly clear that he cared. One of his greatest attributes was his ability to instill passion and enthusiasm in his students: I would never assign the word ‘dull’ to any of his lectures, and his philosophy of teaching captivated and imbued the minds of his students with a great measure of respect for what we were learning.
There are other teachers who inspired me in similar ways: Leonid Parnovski – who supervised by masters project – also taught me various useful qualities that a mathematician should have, and was a fantastic mentor, whose experience in analysis was a powerful motivator. Richard Hill, whose Number Theory lectures and clever solutions had an unmatched degree of fluidity. Andrew Granville, whose unique style made his lectures on Elliptic Curves fascinating. All of these names have their own very distinct characters, but they have one thing in common: they love their subject, and I will forever be thankful for the experiences they gave to me.
It’s hard to pick my favourite teacher, but have settled on the ones who have impacted me most. Having been born blind in my left eye, I was turned away from nurseries as my slight clumsiness was thought to be a danger to other children. I was only accepted at a special needs nursery, and at Herne Hill School. The teachers there treated me like any other child, and I was afforded all of the same opportunities. The teachers I had there showed me that my disability did not have to hold me back, and that if I worked hard, I could achieve anything. I was lucky enough in my Gap Year to return to Herne Hill as a Gap Year Assistant, working in classes throughout the school. I was so happy to see that the school still held this ethos – every child deserves the right to education that helps them to reach their potential. I was able to work alongside some teachers who had taught me at school, to help support children who needed support, and to challenge those who needed extra challenges. So my huge thanks go out to my teachers from Herne Hill – Ms Sutherland, Mrs Ansell, Mrs Irby, Mrs Beales, Mrs Lawson, as well as Chris and Phil – the wonderful headteachers who accepted me into the school all those years ago. They gave me the support I needed, at a time where so many other schools wrote me off. Thank you!