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
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”
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