Teachers are arguably the most important members of our society. They give children purpose, set them up for success as citizens of the world, inspire them to do well and help them to become well-rounded human beings.

They can act as a support system that is lacking elsewhere in students’ lives as well as be a role model to them and an inspiration for the student to go further and to dream bigger.

We have all come across a teacher or teachers that have helped us in some way or other or have gone beyond the scope of what is required of them in a usual school set up. These angels are special people and deserve all the recognition and applause for their selfless acts.

Having attended many schools in my early years as an ‘Air Force’ child, our move to Darlaston in the West Midlands of the United Kingdom, cemented a time where stability became key for a while and the usual move after six months ended.

Darlaston Comprehensive was a co-ed school which provided the academic atmosphere to excel, an endless stream of activities and clubs to partake in after school hours and the option to derive the full benefit that such an organised establishment offered.

I quickly settled into my first year and started to make my mark through hard work, perseverance, and an ever-increasing appetite to know and do more.

It was when I moved from the annexe to the main school that I realised just how huge this school was. As first years we were sheltered to a certain degree, I’m sure this was intended as not to shock us and make us run

for the hills.

The teacher who changed my life is Mrs Parsons, who was my form teacher in year 3 and RE teacher. Soft spoken yet stern when needed, Mrs Parsons was kind and giving of her patience and time. She radiated happiness all around and spoke words of encouragement. When I was going through a particular tough time at home and my personal life infiltrated, disrupted and effected my otherwise impeccable record and presence at school, she stepped in and helped me, often to the extent of meeting me in a supermarket on many a Saturday morning. Over a cup of tea, she would listen to my worries and troubles, offering bits of advice where she could. I could not have gotten through those few years without her and her special nature. She is truly a teacher who cared and was willing to help in whatever way she could.

Another remarkable teacher of note is Mr Davis, the deputy headmaster. He knew me well and was the one I had deep and thoughtful conversations with. My friendship started when I was still in school and grew when I left school, albeit abruptly, to South Africa. I have visited him and his lovely wife Pat on just about every trip I have been back to UK. We have had endless chats on skype or in person when I have visited, and I have learned a great deal from him. It is with Mr Davis that I kept in touch through the art of letter writing and I have kept and treasure each one of the letters received. Nothing will replace waiting for a letter in the post and receiving a crisp aerogram, waiting to be torn open.

Mr Davis wrote a down to earth, touching academic and personal reference for me which I used on many job applications. He never wavered in his encouragement when I was going through particularly tough times and I will forever be grateful for having him my life, for his kindness, his guidance, his good advice, compassionate nature and for listening to me and hearing me. An amazing teacher and friend!

A few honourable mentions of teachers that have changed my world are Mr Day, who was my maths and form teacher in year 5 and who I kept in touch with and visited on my trips home. I watched both his sons grow up through visits and photographs sent and I spent a day with him and his lovely wife Tricia, who I keep in touch with, on their visit to SA. Sadly, Mr Day passed away suddenly of a heart attack, his presence in this world will be missed and I will always remember his kindness, guidance and listening ear.

Another teacher is Mr Debney, my geography teacher, who had a good sense of humour and made his classes fun to be in. He provided a wealth of knowledge to those wanting to learn, encouraged those that needed it and entertained us with his many antidotes.

My English teacher, Mr Beddows, believed in me so explicitly that in year two he gave me the Lord of the Rings trilogy to read. I had always enjoyed reading but he instilled the passion of reading and then writing in me, something I haven’t lost through the years. I remember his excitement when he read my rather long essays, my imagination ran away with me of course, and I will always be grateful for his teaching, his advice, his constructive criticism, and his praise.

My music teacher, Mr Higgins was a constant bubble of laughter and joy and I enjoyed these classes immensely.  I had played the cello for the first few years of my schooling career and had decided to take music as an ‘O’ level course. I kept in touch with him until he passed away, he was a wonderful person.

Only in the years to come do we realise how much a teacher’s dedication and professional expertise have left their mark on our lives and aspirations. Teachers can shape us as individuals and pave the way for greatness and success by holding us accountable for all our successes and failures and motivating us to reach our full potential.

As students, we have the choice whether to reap all these benefits and gifts on offer or not.

If you have had this kind of impact in your life, be truly grateful, for you have been blessed.