Forty Three Years at the Chalk Face

3 Mar


If I cheat and include training, this year will be my forty third in teaching, so I thought I would mark the occasion by listing a few cherry picked memories from many,  which have woven the colourful tapestry of my career. Indulgent, I know …

1.  My first lesson as a student in teacher June 1972 in which I  ran out of material after ten minutes, leaving me panic stricken in front of thirty noisy ten year olds for the next forty minutes.

2,  Visiting Sister Mary Joan, Principal of Endsleigh Teacher Training College in 1972 to inform her I was leaving, having decided that life as a librarian would be easier on the stress levels.  Wisely, she suggested I go to the the zoo with the children on their summer outing the next next day.  It did the trick.

                    thIH25VPOB Endsleigh College

3. My first lesson as a qualified teacher in Hull 1974.  Proud of new qualified status, when a cherubic boy on the front row lifted his desk lid and vomited.  Pride comes before a fall ….

4, Being Snow White when the staff surprised the children with a Christmas Panto at Chiltern Street  School Hull 1975. I’ll never forget the children’s reaction, pure joy.

               thZSVOU8V6 Chiltern Street School Hull

5.  Causing a police incident when I left a packet of ginger biscuits in the staffroom at Chiltern Street school Hull 1977  A red headed teacher was being harassed by a stalker,  who had posted a ginger biscuit, with a bite out,  through her letter box. ( I didn’t know). While I was innocently teaching, there was panic, as they thought he was in the school.


6.  The ensuing chaos when Chiltern Street Girls’  School amalgamated with Boulevard Boys’  School.

7, Mr Sugarman, my first headteacher, who died after a car accident whilst driving four of us teachers home one rainy Friday.

8, Leaving England for the hot and steamy climate of Barranquilla, to teach at the British American school. No mobile phones, skype or facebook.  Three weeks for a letter to get through, or a pre-booked phone call home at Avianca, the Post Office.

british a school             My Class at the British American School

9. A panic stricken boy running to me at the school and, in his broken English, shouting, ‘Miss Katty!  A giant vegetable has fallen on Alfonso’s foot !! ‘ Rushing to the rescue I pictured Alfonso trapped beneath a giant cabbage.  The ‘vegetable’ turned out to be a slab of concrete, and fortunately, he wasn’t badly hurt.

10. All of my time at the British American School.


11. The school in Islington London with a rooftop playground. It seemed so wrong going upstairs to do playground duty.


That takes me to 1983 ….

12. Getting a post at Cockburn High, Leeds and arriving for my first day, to find the school was closed due to asbestos.  It never re-opened.

                   thVQMK3OHH Cockburn High Leeds

13. Taking all the children from Earl Cowper School, Leeds, on a trip to the fairground, paid for by the Variety Club.  Too much candyfloss was consumed and  on the way home, every child on the bus but one, vomited.

                                                                            ntiii_belt_436071_1_290x216 Earl Cowper

14. A history of the school exhibition at Earl Cowper. The Mayor came, as well as quite a few prominant individuals who had attended the school.

15.Computers arriving in 1987.  They would never catch on. Or so we thought.


16, Morning sickness with number one baby caused by teaching above the kitchen at Earl Cowper.

17. Juggling babies and teaching.

18. My first job in Carlisle at Morton School February 1993  Baby number three was three months old.

19. A trip to Holy Island with a group of Morton children.  An oasis of calm during  chaotic times.

th273LWD30   Holy Island

20. Starting work at Trinity School.  Carlisle.

21. Morphing into a drama teacher.

22. Visiting Beamish, a 1912 time warp, with year eights,  so often I could have  worked there.

Beamish---N       thCUOC7QP0 Beamish Museum

23.A Theatre trip to London with the Drama Students June 2000 to see  ‘The Lion King’,  ‘Blood Brothers’,  ‘We Will Rock You’ ‘  and  ‘My Fare Lady’.

24. Endless government initiatives and hoops to jump through.

25. Working with good people, past and present …

26. The Head of English telling us about the Twin Towers’ attack, during a departmental meeting.

27. The Carlisle floods of January 2005 and ensuing upheaval for many students who lost their homes, and my own children whose school was devastated.

       1019156  Carlisle Floods 2005

28. Countless happy memories of  thirteen years at Trinity.

29. Leaving it all behind.

30. A brief but pleasant spell at Bishop Harvey Goodwin School, Carlisle.

31. Limping back to the classroom on supply at Ullswater College after a cancer operation.

32. Keeping keeping on.

33. Teaching at Blackpool Collegiate for six months …and surviving.

34. The hundred mile round trip to Whitehaven School every day, for six months.

35. Going back to Morton after seventeen years and re-uniting with old colleagues. Baby number three was seventeen.

36. Teaching in the astonishing space age, architectural phenomena that is The Richard Rose Academy, Carlisle.

37. On a whim, applying for a job in the Middle East.

38. Arriving in Bahrain, August 2012, and bringing someone else’s suitcase from the airport to my hotel.

39, My first day teaching in Bahrain  and the subsequent three inspiring years, during which my writing career blossomed, with   the publication of a number of stories and poems and the completion of a novelette.

40. Leaving Bahrain and many amazing friends, July 2014.

41. Moving to Cairo, August 2014 for a new teaching adventure.

Not forgetting the stars of the show.  All of the children !

Still going strong!

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