Everyone has a teacher that shaped them. For some, it’s through negative reinforcement, but for many others, one person can have a positive impact that goes on to have significant influence on their lives (shout out to Mr James).
During her live An Audience With Adele concert, which was broadcast on ITV, Adele was surprised by a reunion with her old English teacher, Miss McDonald.
This came after Emma Thompson, who almost stole the show with her dancing, asked the singer to name an influential figure in her early life.
“I had a teacher at Chestnut Grove who taught me English, Miss McDonald,” Adele answered. “She was so bloody cool, so engaging. She really made us care and we knew that she cared about us.”
And who was there in the audience among all the celebs, but... Miss McDonald herself!
Never mind her mascara. Adele was tearfully overjoyed to be reacquainted with the person who encouraged her to explore her passions and keep writing – a nudge that has led to her award-winning music today.
The super emotional reunion has got people thinking about the teachers who contributed profoundly to their own lives, with many taking to social media to honour such figures who left a lasting impact.
English teachers, such as Adele’s Miss McDonald, especially got a shout-out.
For academic Dr Fatima Rajina, it was a teaching assistant who changed her life for the better – and Adele’s reunion was a chance to revisit those memories.
“It was my English language teaching assistant who gave me the attention my main teacher couldn’t,” she tells HuffPost UK. “For context, I grew up in Germany and Bangladesh, so when we came back to the UK, I didn’t speak much English, as German and Bengali were my main languages. Mrs Duggan became my TA and helped me pass my GCSEs, particularly my English.”
Mrs Duggan was “incredibly patient”, she says. The pair would sit out English class together when needed as she found it hard to pick up pace when she didn’t understand what was going on.
“She would take me out and read books with me (from early years). She took her time with me, and she recognised that I was smart, but I just needed help to express myself. She never made me feel bad or inadequate, or stupid. She believed I had the capacity and ability to achieve what I wanted to achieve.”
Dr Rajina says the impact was life-changing. “It was her warmth, love, dedication and fierce determination which had a tremendous impact on me, and it changed my life. If I didn’t have this one person giving me so much attention, I wouldn’t have been able to do my GCSEs, undergraduate degree, or masters.”
Without her she would have been “years behind”, she says, but Mrs Duggan helped her catch up with her peers with incredible patience and determination. And while Dr Rajina doesn’t have her contact details to reach out to say thank you, she dedicated her PhD to Mrs Duggan. “Her impact was so large.”
Many are sharing similar sentiments on social media.
“A good teacher will change your life as seen,” one person tweeted. “My fave teacher was Mr Wilson (English Lit) and Mr Mottram (History) I really got into politics and loved history cos of these guys.” Others shared memories of teachers no longer with us: “I have one special teacher when i was in elementary school, but he died 15 years ago in an earthquake. A kind-hearted Mr.Sugiyanto, thank you for all the lessons,” tweeted another.
And some, like Adele and Miss McDonald, have been able to connect with their childhood role models as adults.
So, which teachers left a lasting impact on your life?