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School Days Index

Caithness School Days Tales

Teachers who made an Impression on me - Part I
Janis Paterson nee McGee

Various teachers fell into this category for one reason or another.  I will concentrate on the ones who made a positive impression on me.  This is not to say that the ones I miss out were not good teachers, they just didn't do or say anything particular that I remember and of course, it was some time ago.

 Miss Margaret Swanson, now Henderson, was our teacher in the 5th year at Pulteneytown Academy.  Miss Swanson would make the announcement, "I think I'll give you homework tonight."  At this point a debate would ensue between her and the class.  Sometimes she would change her mind and we would all feel pleased with ourselves, but at other times she would stand her ground.  The whole thing was a bit of a charade as we actually worked really hard during the day, because she was such a likeable teacher.  The homework was therefore a bit superfluous.  I do remember several of us in the class clubbing together at the end of the year to buy her a present of a brooch.  Testament indeed to what we thought of her.  I do need to add that she was a very young teacher when we had her and this helped too.  All the other teachers seem so old, probably about 50!!

 Miss Elizabeth Manson taught me Maths in Wick High School in the 3rd year.  She managed to teach, in a very clear understandable way and was in my opinion an excellent teacher.  In my case, she turned an abysmal 32 for Algebra the previous year, into a 91 in the first exam of the year.  However there is one particular occasion which still sticks in my mind.  SD told a lie and was found out.  I can't remember the actual details, but think it involved homework. Miss Manson was immediately enraged, something that had not happened before, so was all the more surprising and alarming.  She told SD never to tell a lie, because you only have to tell another to cover it up and so it goes on and on.  This is a lady of very clear morals and she was a great Maths teacher too.

 Miss Maudie Thompson taught History for many years and didn't believe in reading to us from history books.  I remember her sitting perched on the edge of a desk facing the class while we sat enthralled listening.  She also, if I remember correctly, taught English and this may have been the reason that she was so good at storytelling.  When telling the story of the Plague and the Great Fire of London you could visualise the fire raging through the tightly packed houses, you could almost smell the stench in the streets and suddenly these were real people she was speaking about.  Miss Thompson had no need to try and keep the class under control, because her stories held us spellbound.  Sadly she died quite a few years ago.

 I can't bear to finish this on a sad note, so here's a little puzzle for you.  We had a male teacher who taught us Chemistry, but whose name totally evades me.  He obviously came from the Central belt of Scotland, as he had what I would have described as a Glasgow accent.  This particular teacher sticks in my mind because I just adored the way he said "potassium permanganate" in his "Glasgow" accent.  Can't remember what we used to do with the stuff, but do remember that it was a purple crystal.  Can anyone remember the name of the teacher?