ELLE (UK)

Life-changing LESSONS

ELLE’S NEWS EDITOR OLIVIA BLAIR WRITES ABOUT the TEACHER who SPARKED her INTEREST in POLITICS and LISTENED to her WHEN she NEEDED IT MOST

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I wasn’t sure if we would get on at first. Mrs Holman – who had a reputation for being strict – became my history teacher in Year 1O. In the second week of term, she moved me across the room, away from a distractin­g classmate. Mrs Holman didn’t take any nonsense. I was chatting too much in class, so she separated us. I was annoyed at first, but with hindsight, I’m grateful to her. She knew that she wouldn’t get the best out of me if I sat there.

She taught us passionate­ly about the suffragett­e movement, inspiring us with their stories and through pictures of female political disruptors that she dotted around the classroom wall. There was Benazir Bhutto and Betty Boothroyd – alongside a Heat magazine ‘Torso of the week’ picture of Barack Obama at the beach thrown in for good measure. She had a dry sense of humour too.

I carried on with history at A level, and took her politics class too. Looking back, it’s no coincidenc­e that the two classes she taught me became the university degree course I chose. But I had some tough times in sixth form as well. On one occasion, it got so bad that I ran out of school and missed one of her politics lessons. Although I was a chatty student, I wasn’t someone who bunked off, so Mrs Holman insisted that my friends call me to find out where I was. We spoke on the phone, me through tears, and she listened. We had a meeting afterwards, where I opened up to her. There, I saw a caring and soft side to the firm teacher I’d first met two years ago, though she never treated me any differentl­y in lessons.

When the time came for me to leave school, I knew she was one of the people I was going to miss the most. Mrs Holman was a teacher first and foremost. But she was very human too – kind and understand­ing. Above all, she was fair. From my experience, that’s the perfect combinatio­n you need for a great teacher.

Thank you for your lasting impact, Mrs H.

“MRS H TAUGHT US PASSIONATE­LY ABOUT THE SUFFRAGETT­ES”

Feeling inspired? If you have GCSE grade C or equivalent in English and maths and a degree, you could help support, influence and educate the next generation. To find out more about a career in teaching, search ‘Get Into Teaching’

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