Please note that certain names have been changed for this post.
He was never my favourite teacher. I was never his favourite student. Makes sense.
Certainly, anyone whose idea of learning involved being made to run laps around the school field first thing on a freezing cold Monday morning, regardless of how few layers you were wearing, wasn’t about to land a spot in my ‘good’ books. And being the nerdy, awkward 12-year-old that I was, he never considered me his MVP.
In all honesty, we were arch nemeses. The fact I can still remember how his voice sounded when he raised it at me says enough.
That was a few years ago. In the time since, Mr Davies had faded into the rearmost corridors of my memory, his life and mine heading in increasingly different directions. I had no reason to think about him at all.
Until last Friday.
I got back from the kitchen (having just led a shift for the first time), headed to my room and checked Facebook. One of the first things I saw was a status posted by one of the PE group’s top students, saying:
“Wow. RIP Mr Warren Davies. Absolute legend of a teacher.”
He was dead.
In that moment, my heart felt like it was being ripped in two. It was a feeling that stayed with me for the next couple of days. I found it harder to concentrate on work, socialising and everything in between.
I tried to suppress my grief. I couldn’t understand why I felt so sad about it. You were his least favourite student. What right have you to feel this way?
But the truth is, I never fully forgot about Mr Davies. Even after my lessons with him finished, I would still think about him from time to time. I would ask myself questions like:
- What was it about him that caused me to dislike him so much?
- Could it be that his harshness was supposed to build us up?
- What if the attitude he showed in lessons didn’t represent what he was usually like?
- Wasn’t he a human just like me?
The more I thought about it, the more I realised how influential Mr D had been to my life. He had got me asking questions that I needed to ask. He had got me seeking after answers that were vital to my personal development. He had got me thinking about what really makes a man a man.
And he had pushed me beyond my limits, both on and off the rugby pitch.
Thanks, Sir, for everything. My old school will miss you.