On Thursday, I met up for lunch with two former colleagues at "The Meadow Farm" pub-restaurant , Ecclesfield on the northeastern edge of the city. Part of me just wants to relegate memories of my long teaching career to history and move forwards but Sofia and Emma are such nice people that for them I'm happy to resist that urge.
It's been two years now. There have been no regrets. If I hadn't taken my early retirement package in the summer of 2009, I wouldn't have got to teach in Bangkok or experience the naturalness of one-to-one teaching in two other Sheffield secondary schools or travel to Easter Island. Looking back, the job, its associated pressures, the ten hour days and the thankless weekend and holiday work were squeezing the life out of me like a medieval press. However, unlike Giles Corey in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible", I certainly was not crying out for "more weight". Quite the opposite.
It's nice to see Emma getting on with her life. She's twenty eight now and I'm rather proud that I was instrumental in giving her a first real break as a teacher. She was dogged, reliable and resilient. Next month she'll be my old school's new Second in English. With her boyfriend, she has bought a house and has recently had a new kitchen fitted.
Sofia was my English department's very capable teaching assistant. Having extricated herself from a difficult marriage, she has raised two teenage daughters pretty much on her own and, to her credit, they have both turned out well. She was practical and effective, intervening sensitively when behaviour flare-ups in classrooms occurred or when troubled teachers had just about reached the ends of their tethers. We got on famously and I'm pleased that she is proceeding nicely with her foundation degree which will ultimately lead her to a full teaching qualification and therefore a much better rate of pay.
After sitting in the late August sunshine at "Meadow Farm" I captured some photos of northern Sheffield for the Geograph British Isles mapping project. This is what I saw:-
"The Meadow Farm", Ecclesfield
Elliott Lane, Whitley
Church of St Paul, Parson Cross Estate
Sheffield Lane Top