The mentors who shaped our futures

Second from the right, Lisa speaking at this year's Rotherham College graduation ceremony - one of their great success stories
Second from the right, Lisa speaking at this year's Rotherham College graduation ceremony - one of their great success stories

Everybody remembers their favourite teacher.

They were the ones that got them thinking about a subject a little differently; who opened their eyes to the fact that, under the right guidance, learning could be fun, and whose energy and enthusiasm possibly even influenced the career choices they went on to make.

Lisa speaking at this year's Rotherham College graduation ceremony - one of their great success stories

Lisa speaking at this year's Rotherham College graduation ceremony - one of their great success stories

These educators remain frozen in time for us, as we age and grow, immortalised in our memories, along with the lessons they taught us. And that’s exactly why this week, we’re celebrating World Teachers’ Day - to raise awareness of their hard work and to support them in their mission of helping to educate future generations.

“My favourite teacher was Mr Stones, the games master at Birkdale Prep School,” recalls James Biggin, of Dore.

“He was my PE and form teacher and was always in a tracksuit. His passion for sports not only rubbed off on me at the time, it stayed with me my entire life.”

Now aged 40, James, managing director of Steel City Marketing, loves skiing and playing squash in his spare time and enjoys running - all things he learned under Mr Stones tutelage.

Lisa Pogson as she is today - resources director for Airmaster

Lisa Pogson as she is today - resources director for Airmaster

“Mr Stones got me interested in cricket, rugby, football and gymnastics,” he adds.

“I played cricket with Michael Vaughan and had practice sessions alongside Joe and Billy Root as a kid. I also went on two skiiing trips with Mr Stones; a sport which I now enjoy sharing with my own children.

“He was a fair man, but disciplined. You didn’t mess with Mr Stones. If you were well-behaved, he respected you and I remember him fondly to this day and the impact he’s had on my life.”

For Rotherham businesswoman Lisa Pogson, it was two wonderful English teachers who started to change the way she felt about school.

James Biggin at Abbeydale Sports Club playing squash

James Biggin at Abbeydale Sports Club playing squash

Lisa explains: “When I was at school, I was more interested in how I was going to pay for the next Human League and Heaven 17 singles than I was about a career.

“I wasn’t really bothered about studying at all until I met Miss Gwent and Miss Carter. Miss Gwent taught me literature and I will never forget her passion for the subject. Miss Carter, who taught me language, was always behind me and made me start to believe in my own capabilities, which was a real turning point for me.”

And Lisa, resources director at Rotherham heating and air-conditioning company Airmaster, says she still remembers a painful school careers interview when her RE teacher told her she might make a good secretary one day.

She added: “No one at school, apart from those two women, offered me any direction or encouraged me to try and further my education. Luckily I made the decision myself to go on to Rotherham College at 23, where I met another inspirational teacher, Anne Goddard.

“Thanks to teachers like Anne, this ‘under-achieving’ 16-year-old went on to gain a Masters of Science degree in Management Resources. This year I was invited back to Rotherham College to speak at their graduation ceremony which was such an honour. It just goes to show, good teachers really can shape your life.”

Now in its 22nd year, World Teachers’ Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - a branch of the UN which is dedicated to promoting peace through education, science and culture.

Despite the recent recession, World Teachers’ Day, held yesterday, seeks to remind us that investment in teachers for the future generations is still vitally important.

With that in mind, and thanks to her own personal experience with great teachers, Lisa’s company Airmaster is now backing an initiative for vulnerable teens with Grimm & Co, a new Yorkshire literacy charity which encourages children to let their imaginations run wild and engage in new and exciting ways of writing such as song-writing, film and fiction.

Lisa said: “Every study into literacy shows it has a massive effect on people’s life chances. It cannot be right that, last year, English 16 to 24 year olds came 22nd out of 24 countries measured for literacy levels.

“It is vital that children enjoy reading - reading for pleasure is more important than either wealth or social class as an indicator of success at school. Yet I hear from the Reading Agency only 40 per cent of England’s ten year olds have a positive attitude to reading - a tide this project - and indeed this day - aims to turn.”

Visit Grimm & Co for more details about the South Yorkshire project


Lianne Asquith said: “My geography teacher Mr Gates, at Foulstone School in Barnsley, was a fantastic teacher and all these years later I still remember him; a great guy but everyone respected him too. And my form tutor Miss Mallinson was ace. She taught science so our dorm room always smelled dodgy because of the weird experiments. It’s funny the things you remember”

Ant Oxley said: “I was allowed to be school photographer with my teacher’s camera for the Lord Mayor’s visit to our school when I was nine-years-old. I am a professional photographer and TV cameraman now so I owe Mr Rogers, or Shortbrook Middle School in Sheffield, an awful lot.”

Sophie Mei Lan Slack said: “My form teacher Kim Wilson, at King Edwards V11 in Sheffield, was an amazing lifeline. She really piqued my interest in social sciences which has lead to me now being a journalist.”

Maureen Lass said: “My headteacher Miss Wragg, at Hucklow Road School, was an absolute inspiration in the 40s.”

Lea Burdett said: “Mr Ward from Eckington Comprehensive School was an RE teacher. He was hilarious and professional and helped me pass my exam.”

Daryl Slinn said: “Mrs Bland at Abbeydale Juniors was a great teacher who had time for everyone. She was very kind, generous and funny. A lovely lady.”

Victoria Livitt said: “I reckon even the ‘bad uns’ in the back of the classroom had that one teacher whose lesson made the rest of the day a little easier. We owe those teachers a lot”