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Drops of grace in life – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 24 January 2018

January 24, 2018
Drops of Grace in Life

Drops of grace in life

I read a heart-warming article in the Press this week about author Chris Young, who was trying to get in touch with his English teacher, a Miss Ward, from the late 1970s. Mr Young, who commended his teacher for supporting him after his mother died and his alcoholic father could not cope, tweeted:

‘I’d dropped into the bottom quarter for English at school. My #English Teacher Miss Ward pulled me out of that ditch’. At the age of 13 years, Miss Ward ‘treated me like a rock star, loved what I wrote and got me to talk in front of the class’.

He is now about to launch his first book!

Memories of teachers who encouraged us

I imagine (and I hope) that we all have memories of someone who has stood by us, encouraged us and ‘been there for us’ when the going got tough. Whilst my early life was very different from that of the gentleman above, I can also remember a teacher who impacted me positively and immeasurably – and who also gave me confidence to speak in front of others. Her name was Miss Margaret Maclaurin and she was my elocution teacher at Prep School in Scotland in the 1960s.

School, stammers and elocution

My parents lived and worked in West Africa and were in a remote area of Ghana when the time came for me to go to school aged five. There was nowhere suitable for me locally and so I came to board, aged five, at Drumley House Prep School near Ayr. Whilst I have only fond memories of my eight years at Drumley, at some point in my early years there I developed a stammer. This was possibly a result of the separation from my parents (although I usually spent my holidays with them in Ghana or, when home on leave, in Paisley). Miss Maclaurin came to my rescue! She saw me once a week for elocution lessons and during this time not only did I learn a few ‘tricks’ (such as how to avoid using words beginning in ‘p’ when feeling tired and stressed), I also learnt about speaking in public. Where this was once the most disarming place for me as a stutterer, it came to be a challenge which I relished. Miss M taught me to learn poetry off by heart so that when I declaimed I could concentrate on expression, modulation and emphasis and not have to worry about the words themselves.

Public speaking

As a Head I have to speak in public almost daily and owe a huge debt of gratitude towards Miss Maclaurin. It was a delight to visit her in her home when recently married and to introduce her to my wife, Rosalyn. So engrossed were we in conversation that we quite forgot that Rosalyn had gone off to the bathroom (and somehow locked herself in) – but that’s another story!

So, a challenge for us all: think of someone who has had a positive impact on our lives in years gone by and why not surprise them with a letter, a card, a call or even a visit – just to show appreciation. It might prove to be a ‘drop of grace’ in their life at this very moment. You’ll never know if you don’t try it – and who knows, someone may do it for you, too!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 25, 2018 8:05 am

    Wonderful :)) I looked up my former Sunday School teacher just months before she passed — met her at church, took her to lunch and visited with her at her home. It was truly a marvel, forty years later, to thank her for all she had meant to me :)) Dawn

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