Great teachers inspire for a lifetime

25 October 2017

Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

I recently launched a podcast series called ‘bluyonder voices’ where I chat to educators and educational leaders. One of the first questions I always ask is ‘Which teacher inspired you most and why?’ Without a pause, my guests can all name that teacher. The qualities of those inspiring teachers are things like passion for the work, commitment to improving their teaching and always putting the students first. These are the hallmarks of great teachers.

When I look back on the teacher that most inspired me, it was Alan Drummond who taught History. Alan was honest when we needed to work harder, challenging when he knew we could do better and always encouraging. He had a deep passion for European history, which, I have to admit, I didn’t share as a seventeen-year-old. Still, he expected us to make the effort, which didn’t always suit my relaxed learning style! In the end, the effort (his and mine!) paid off. When I received my HSC results, I was amazed to learn that I was ranked 30th in the state for History. It was Alan’s passion and expertise that not only influenced on my exam results but my decision to become an English and History teacher.

Teaching is a demanding profession. It is also one of the most important professions in society, which is why we celebrate World Teachers Day on October the 27th. World Teachers Day is an opportunity for the wider community to recognise the valuable contribution made by teachers everywhere. It is also an opportunity to pause and reflect on the impact that those great teachers had on us and our children. As a society, we place extraordinary trust in teachers to build on the foundations laid by parents.

When you drop your children at school on Friday or you take a break at work, I encourage you to think about that one teacher who inspired you the most. Sometimes we get the opportunity to thank them in person but mostly we live with the memories of their kind words and deeds. What we have become is, at least in part, the result of their influence.

The gift of great teachers is cultivating life-long learning. For me it was a passion for history, so thank you A.J. Drummond!

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta

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