If you are lucky enough, at some point during your schooling life you will come across a teacher who sees you, who encourages you to be better than you thought you could be, and who helps you push yourself further than you would have done without the encouragement. For superstar singer Adele, that teacher was Ms McDonald.
At a televised gala event, actress Emma Thompson asked the singer if there was someone “who supported you and inspired you” when she was younger. The first person to spring to Adele’s mind was her English teacher, Ms McDonald. “She really got me into literature,” Adele said. “She was so bloody cool. So engaging, she really made us care and we knew she cared about us."
As it turned out Ms McDonald was in the audience and what followed was a tearful reunion between arguably one of the most talked about singers of our time and her Year 7 teacher.
It’s no surprise that Adele was in tears, as were quite a few of the celebrities at the event. But something about the moment has hit a chord with many people around the world who have viewed the footage since. The reason for that perhaps, was because it was potent reminder of the power of teachers - something I know too well.
It wasn’t an easy transition for me when I moved to Australia. For my first few years of schooling life I floundered trying to figure out where I belonged. In a large school with a sea of new faces I often felt invisible. Thankfully, someone saw me. In my senior years I came across Mr Osborne. He taught our computing class but also looked out for me in ways which may have been small to him, but it made me feel like I mattered.
Much like Adele’s teacher, Mr Osborne also left the school while I was still studying, though he was also probably the reason I ended up entering into a computer science degree when I finished school. It didn’t take me long to realise I was completely unsuited to my degree choice and I ended up changing courses soon after entering university, but the influence he had on me could be seen in the fact I tried a computing degree in the first place.
The Ms McDonalds and Mr Osbornes of the world remind us of the influence our teachers can have on us. This has especially come to the fore in the last couple of years when the global pandemic disrupted schooling life for children around the world. As parents we were thrown into homeschooling our children and for many, it was then that they recognised how much teachers do for our kids.
I am endlessly thankful to my children’s teachers for working through such a strange time. Many of these teachers were juggling homeschooling their own children while teaching a whole class of kids remotely. My son’s kindy teacher was one of them, but it didn’t stop her from going above and beyond for the children in her class. While my son might be too young to remember her influence, I will remember it.
As Adele showed in a very public manner, even the world’s greatest celebrities can be reduced to a puddle of tears in front of their teachers.
As Adele showed in a very public manner, even the world’s greatest celebrities can be reduced to a puddle of tears in front of their teachers. In an instant we can be transported to our childhood selves, full of the insecurities and worries that as adults we work hard to hide. But also Adele’s tears were an outpouring of gratitude for a person who believed in her before the world did.
I too had a brief reunion with Mr Osborne though it was while I was still at university. I had just filled my car at the petrol station when I heard a familiar voice call my name. Mr Osborne and I had a brief chat and I filled him in on the years since I’d last seen him. He told me a bit about what he was doing too and then he wished me good luck and went on his way. I thought then, I’m glad he remembered me just like I had remembered him.
It was a similar thought that Adele’s teacher, Ms McDonald had. "Thank you for remembering me," she told the singer. She needn’t have worried though, good teachers are hard to forget.
Saman Shad is a writer and journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @muminprogress