Blog 03.10.14

Who are your teaching heroes?

It’s teacher time. This Sunday is a chance to celebrate the role these dedicated professionals play in our lives and our future with UNESCO’s World Teachers’ Day.

As the United Nations’ agency puts it: “Quality education offers hope and the promise of a better standard of living. There is no stronger foundation for lasting peace and sustainable development than a quality education provided by well trained, valued, supported and motivated teachers.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlines the point, stating that ‘everyone has the right to an education…’— see our latest bulletin.

In honour of the occasion a selection of some of our highly educated Context staffers reflect on the people that made a difference. The ones that inspired their love of learning and influenced their paths in life. Perhaps there’s someone you’d like to remember or reach out to…


Peter Knight, Co-Founder of Context

From an uninspiring cadre of tired teachers, two stood out at my country school in South Africa. One, my gym master, taught me how to do flick-flacks and master the parallel bar. He was good.  The other was my history teacher, a woman too bright for the small-town school, held back by her gender in a chauvinistic country. She taught me never to accept the prevailing point of view and always to look for alternative angles that could improve my analysis. Great teaching.

Elen Newcombe, Analyst

Teachers really do make or break your love for a subject, don’t they? In the depths of the Welsh valleys, inspiration was often pretty hard to come by, but my biology teacher was one in a million. His classroom, jam-packed with stuffed foxes and pickled molluscs, was always a hive of activity. A passion for rock-climbing meant that thirty students were often to be found watching birds from cliff-tops or scouring rock pools for sea life. And he even introduced us to the fascinating, complicated topic of climate change – which has undoubtedly influenced where I am today. Thanks Sir!

Jana Holt, Senior Consultant, US

How do I pick just one influential teacher? I’ve been fortunate to have amazing teachers from kindergarten through MBA, but when I think about my first forays into sustainability, I can’t help but think of Debbie Wile. Her fifth grade class compost bin taught me that ‘waste’ is about perspective, all creatures (worms included) have an important job to do, and everyone can give back to the community, even if it’s by selling composted soil to your parents to raise money for a bench in the school playground.

Michael Cook, Consultant, US

Mr. Johnson was definitely a one of a kind teacher. He was my junior high English teacher and later became my Journalism teacher in high school.  What made him so unique was that he was able to befriend students, earn their respect, and hold everyone accountable to very high standards. Because Mr. Johnson invested time in each student, he knew exactly what they were capable of at an individual level. His feedback always held weight and he was able to push each of us to new levels in terms of skill-sets and creative thinking.

Phoebe Hayes, Consultant

Teachers are a wonderful hodgepodge of eccentrics. My classics teacher, with his remarkable comb-over, enjoyed sentencing you to lines. ‘Silence is golden’, 100 times, was his favourite. He taught me to talk slightly less. My quirky drama teacher with a zest for all things George Orwell. She made my role as a pigeon in Animal Farm thrilling. And my chatty Geography teacher who captivated us with stories of her travels. She taught me to be curious about the world. The good, the bad, the fun and the unconventional ones. My teachers made it. They made school a marvellous place. Happy World Teachers’ Day to you all.

Celine Suarez, Client Director, US

One of my favorite teachers ever was my geology 101 teacher in college. The way he taught, and the way he lived his life was so inspiring to me. He saw me sitting in the front row every day, rapt by his lectures, and knew that I had discovered something that really made me want to learn.  And he was the one who pulled me aside and encouraged me to focus on this new passion, despite my extreme lack of confidence in my ability, and to go on to pass the hardcore math and science classes that would be required. Because of him I made a shift from a major in journalism to an earth system science major with a minor in geology. He singlehandedly changed the course of my career, and there is no question that I would not be sitting here right now if it weren’t for him!

Get involved with World Teachers’ Day here. #humanrightsinContext

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