Loss of a Legend

I have found out this afternoon that one of the most inspiring teachers I had, passed away and was buried yesterday. We affectionately refer to people we admire as legends. He was a legend, for me and a whole generation of students/ pupils.

Arriving a couple of weeks late, due to ill health, in my 5 grade (age 11) at the start of secondary school, everyone was terrified by him. I was nervous, yet I became enthralled with him from the word go.

He loved his subject and presented it with both passion and creativity. He wasn’t there just filling time, he was in the classroom to influence lives and inspire pupils. He always created a ‘behind the scenes’ context to every historical narrative. He used visual aids and rad stories that weren’t in the manuals. He knew how to reward those who went digging deeper. And yes, he was strict and demanding, believing that history was a useful tool for life not just academic achievement.

He was a rebel, dressing in black and wearing tight jeans and boots. His hair was longer, betraying his love for rock. In a dull world numbed by communism’s forbidden taboos, it was great to have a different kind of a role model. Intelligent yet irregular. There were plenty of legends and mystique, regarding attacks by some of the belligerent local gangs, wanting to test his martial arts credentials too.

In my final years, excelling at his subject, I became an apprentice I guess, and therefore was introduced to Pink Floyd, Allan Parsons Project and Styx – all part of a rocker’s musical education.
After moving on, I visited him once, and like a true mentor, he treated me with the dignity deserved by a young boy who was slowly becoming a young man. I will never forget the proud look in his eyes.

Unaware, he influenced me in my most formative years of my life. He inspired me as a teacher, communicator and mentor. We both love people and do what we do as a vocation, not as a job.

Thank you Mr. J,

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