Four Trinity students who nominated their teachers for the College’s Inspirational Teachers’ Awards 2020 have paid tribute to their dedication, inspiration and hard work.
The initiative is designed to recognise the important role teachers can play in encouraging their pupils to aim for and apply to Cambridge. First year students at Trinity nominate their inspiring teacher. The schools of teachers who win the award each receive £500 and the student who nominates their teacher receives £75 in book tokens. Teachers and students are invited to dinner at Trinity.
History student, Kai Melhuish, paid tribute to Dr Andrew Hogan, English teacher and Assistant Deputy at Debden Park High School, with whom he originally had a ‘very at-odds relationship.’ Kai said:
Originally a misbehaved, under-performing student, being moved to Dr Hogan’s English class in Year 10 was by far the biggest turning point in my academic career. He pushed me and my curiosity and passion for both literature and political & economic history, as well as finding, loaning (and even buying) me particular books he thought might challenge and inspire me.
‘There is no doubt that I would not have been the first to and only successful Oxbridge applicant from my school without his help,’ he said.
English student, Emily Yelf, was taken by surprise by her initial encounter with her English teacher Kelly Willcox, of Greenshaw School.
‘The first time I ever handed in an essay to Miss Wilcox she found me at lunch time the next day, handed it back (already marked) and simply told me: “never stop writing.” In the two years that followed I felt as though I had found a friend that loved English literature just as much as I did,’ said Emily.
Every topic she taught became exciting… suddenly literature had become more than the set text. My class and I were confronted with critical content of a level that we had not even realised existed. Any student of Kelly Wilcox would grab at the chance to make the world recognise what an invested, cool, down-to-earth and dynamic teacher she is.
Jack Wiltshire said his English teacher, Liz Mayne, of Wyggestone and Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, also went above and beyond for her students.
Ms Mayne taught me just exactly what literature is: a subject where compassion and empathy balance logic and reasoning. Asking questions like ‘does Romeo really love Juliet?’ did annoy me at first because, to me back then, the idea of questioning icons of society seemed impossible or foolish.
She inspired me because coming from a family of builders and carers and trying to scramble my way up the ladder into academia, there was a compassion in her. I believe she reflects the apogee of what a teacher can become: a guider and person dedicated not to the exam but to the students.
Sam Newton, who is studying Modern and Medieval Languages, said Dr Audrey Hartford’s lessons and extra-curricula activities beyond Colchester Royal Grammar – from special lessons in German poetry, a film conference and a trip to Berlin – provided opportunities to relish and explore her subject in depth. Sam said:
She was always very encouraging when I asked about applying to Cambridge, and having studied a lot of foreign language literature in her time at university, she was keen to encourage literary study beyond the A-Level course. It it testament to to Dr Hartford that everyone in our A-Level German class achieved an A* this year.
Photos: Graham CopeKoga