An Educational Journey from Thomas Lord Audley School to Alice Smith School
In 2006, at Thomas Lord Audley School in Essex, a unique bond formed between a teacher, Mr Howard, and his student, Canny. Little did they know that years later, they would reunite as colleagues at Alice Smith School in Malaysia.
During the induction week for new staff at Alice Smith School, the unexpected reunion unfolded. Mr Howard, who taught history at Thomas Lord Audley School, was surprised to find out that his former student, Canny, a.k.a. Mr Wija, was now a teacher at the same school. The connection between them became apparent as Mr Wija shared memories of his time as a student in Colchester, Essex England.
Canny's presence at Thomas Lord Audley School was distinctive as he came from Hong Kong, adding a diverse perspective to the classroom.
I was an introvert. I sat at the back of the class, kept my head down, and made notes throughout the whole lesson. The less attention paid to me, the better. Mr Howard always found a way to give me a chance to speak up. He’d find ways for me to have a voice in any lesson and encouraged me to share my views. In his class, I felt seen and heard, and he gave me a platform to express my ideas. Mr Howard was instrumental in shaping my confidence.
Despite initial nervousness in a new school and country, he quickly adapted and even became a Prefect, thanks to Mr Howard’s encouragement.
I remember my fifteen-year-old self thinking while writing the application, 'There is no chance of me getting prefectship, no way.' The morning the head prefect list was posted, I recall Mr Howard approaching me in the corridor with his warm, all-knowing gaze, saying, 'I'd keep a close eye on that list if I were you; you're going to be very happy about the results.' That moment has always stayed with me. Mr Howard consistently saw a part of me that I could never see in myself. His growth mindset and the way he recognises potential in others are his gifts as a leader.
Mr Howard's encouragement of Canny to apply for a school leadership position, and Canny eventually becoming a Prefect was a pivotal moment for Canny. This experience not only developed Canny's leadership skills but also boosted his confidence. The impact of this guidance was evident years later when Mr Howard decided to visit Mr Wija's class at Alice Smith School in Malaysia.
Mr Wija also credits Mr Howard for his influence on his teaching practices,
I’m sure we can all recall many teachers who have impacted us in our lives. We remember the ones who encouraged us, noticed us when we were downtrodden, and took the time to ask us about our day. The way Mr Howard was with our class still resonates with me as an educator now. He gave me a voice because he knows that all students deserve to be heard. He made me realise that having confidence isn’t about being the loudest or having the smartest thing to say, but it’s about having something of value to say. He modelled courage and showed us that feeling uncomfortable is part of the process of learning and growing. This lesson has stayed with me my whole life.
The heartwarming moment unfolded when Mr Howard introduced himself to Mr Wija’s students as their former teacher. The excitement in the students was palpable, and they took a group photo together. A delightful highlight of the reunion came in the form of a spontaneous question from a little girl to Mr Howard, “Did you teach Mr Wija to be so funny?” This innocent yet profound query added a delightful twist to the encounter, showcasing the profound impact a teacher can have on a student's personality and sense of humour.
As Mr Howard observed Mr Wija’s exceptional teaching skills, he reflected on the transformative power of education. Canny, once a student who overcame challenges at Thomas Lord Audley School in Essex, had evolved into a dedicated teacher. In this role, he served as a role model for his own students, echoing the influence that Mr Howard had on him years ago. It was a powerful reminder of the lasting impact teachers can have on their students' lives.
For me, it’s all about acknowledging Mr Howard’s and my professional interests while also appreciating our shared history. I’ve found myself sharing a common purpose with Mr Howard through our profession. We are both committed to the mission of enriching young minds, and we both have mutual respect for the power of education. I can proudly say that I stand on the shoulders of his influence, and it is my hope that I may shape the minds under my care, all thanks to the impact he had on me as a teenager.
This chance rendezvous served as a testament to the enduring influence of educators and the importance of staying connected to former schools. It showcased the remarkable journey from student-teacher relationship to a heartwarming reunion, emphasising the profound impact teachers can have on shaping their students' lives. It's a story that echoes the power of education and the enduring connections forged within the school walls.
Alice Smith School former students, teachers and parents can stay connected via our alumni group KLASSics - you can join the group on Facebook and Instagram and complete the form for membership. You can also become a valued donor and contribute via our Foundation.