Posted in #BeTheInspiration, creativity, curriculum, education, teaching

Inspirational Teachers in My Life – Mr Heaton – the “cool” teacher

Inspirational teachers don’t always lead people into the teaching profession, and perhaps that is the point. A truly inspirational teacher will come to mind, unexpectedly, years later. They will encourage and inspire a child to follow their own pathway and enrich their lives for generations to come. Our guest blogger Debbie Godfrey remembers her own experience of one magical teacher.

“I always remember Primary School life being some of the best years of my life. I didn’t enjoy secondary school but I had some great teachers there. But my most inspirational teacher, and the one that sticks in my mind, is from primary school.

When I was in my junior years (years 3-6) at Aspinal Primary School (now Oasis Academy Aspinal) in East Manchester, my classmates and I were very lucky to have a teacher called Mr Heaton. He was fabulous, and he was really funny. He made the lessons fun and laughed with us but he was also very fair when disciplining his pupils. This was a very rare occurrence as even as very young children we had respect for him and behaved. He was a ‘cool’ teacher who played the guitar whilst we sang all kinds of songs that he would teach us.

There are two songs that stick in my head when I think of him and they are ‘Jamaica Farewell’ and ‘Moonshadow’. I still sing them now, they will come into my head as I’m walking the kids to school and I smile.

He inspired me to learn to play an instrument. Mr Heaton set up Balalaika lessons at playtime and I took them up. When I told my eldest daughter about this she asked to see a picture of the instrument. She was three at the time and laughed because mummy had played a triangle guitar.

My favourite memory however is not of his singing, or of his guitar and Balalaika playing but is of one day when he was checking my maths work. It’s a silly little thing and has nothing to do with his teaching methods, more to do with the relationship he had with his pupils.

The evening before I had used Vosene shampoo to wash my hair, I loved and still love that stuff. The following day, he was walking around the classroom checking everyone’s sums. When he reached my side of the table after checking my friend Heather’s work, he leaned over and asked me to check the working out on one of my sums.

Suddenly distracted, he said to me: “Oh your hair smells lovely, what have you washed it with?” My seven year old reply was “Ermmmm Shampoo!”

Writing this down now it does not sound very funny but I remember he laughed so much that he was still laughing when he got back to his desk! He even came out to tell my mum about it when she picked me up from school.

Mr Heaton continued to inspire me when I went off to secondary school as I wanted to learn to play more instruments. I went on to learn the keyboard both at school and at lessons outside of school. I stopped after a while as I was beginning to focus more on Drama, but as the years have gone by I have found myself wishing I had kept it up.

Maybe I will get my keyboard out and teach myself to play ‘Jamaica Farewell’ and ‘Moonshadow’ in his memory. Unfortunately, I found out that he had passed away a few years ago. I will never forget him though and every time I smell Vosene I laugh.

I have children of my own now and I have told all of them about Mr Heaton. I hope they have a teacher like him that makes them want to get up and go to school every day.”

Who inspired you? Join the conversation on Twitter! @_TheSchoolBus #BeTheInspiration



I'm an ex-teacher with a real passion for education, politics and teaching. I am also a keen writer and blogger with strong opinions.

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