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News > Latest News > Interview With Alumni Teacher Stephanie Hurst

Interview With Alumni Teacher Stephanie Hurst

A fascinating interview with St Anthony's Alumni that will bring back great memories for some and provide an incite into how life at St Anthony's was in the 70's for others.
Stephanie Hurst taught at St Anthony's between 1972-1978
Stephanie Hurst taught at St Anthony's between 1972-1978

Hi Stephanie, it’s nice to e-meet you! Please can you briefly explain why you’re St Anthony’s Alumni?

I taught at St Anthony's from September 1972 to Summer Term 1978. My class was Lower Transition boys 7 to 8 years. My colleagues were, Diana Booth, Lynda Stuart and Barbara Soames, and later Liz Boldrin and Caroline Easterbrook. The classroom was situated in Tim's flat on the first floor. It was a long narrow room above the kitchen. The boy’s desks were wooden with lids and ink wells. There was not a vast amount of equipment like we have today and limited resources and no computers. Just talk and chalk with no national curriculum, Ofsted inspections or planning to worry about. We just had to get on with it.  I loved every day of teaching, all such interesting boys.

How would you describe the St Anthony’s community?

St Anthony's was a fantastic warm community. Wonderful, friendly staff offering advice not only about teaching, but life in general. We were almost like a family.

What are your fondest memories of your time here?

Here are some of my fondest memories. Jean Parker, Head of the Junior School supported us every step of the way. However, we were not allowed to be ill or take any days off as there was no emergency cover. I liked Tim Patton's refreshing attitude to education, and I took onboard his progressive views on how he encouraged the boys with clear thinking, art and theatre. James Bellamy taught maths in upper transition. He was so kind to the boys and called every child 'sonny'. His discipline was amazing all he had to say is 'for' and silence would reign. I always went with him on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to Hampstead Cricket ground to teach football in winter and cricket in Summer. Mr B coached the boys for 'the team' and I had the intellectuals and the ones who would rather ski than play football. Where the ball went the boys went. I kept score and decided who should kick if the ball went offside and there were always arguments about penalties. I also taught upper transition history. Morning break, if we were not on duty was spent in Louis cafe in Hampstead swatting up our forthcoming lessons and discussing strategies on how to help boys with difficulties and praising those who had improved knowledge or done exceptionally well. In later years we abandoned Louis, as 28 pence for a cup of coffee was a bit pricey. Break time was spent in the classroom as there was no staffroom.

Did you have a favourite and least favourite school lunch?

Margaret in the kitchen made delicious meals. I believe Mrs Patton taught her how to cook. Her apple crumble and shepherd's pie were my favourites. I don't remember anything unpalatable.

What inspired you to become a teacher and what advice would you have for students wanting to follow in a similar career path one day?

I was inspired to become a teacher when I went into further education, as I wanted to study and have a professional qualification.
Teaching seemed right and I love working with children and seeing them develop and reach their potential. If you decide upon a teaching career today you will always be in demand for work and there are many paths in teaching. After St Anthony's, I had a career break, and then had a very interesting time as a supply teacher, teaching in many different schools across London. I eventually became a tutor working on film sets with the BBC. Now I am private tutor and have just signed up for the National Tutoring Program which I am looking forward to participating in.

How did teaching positively impact you as a person? Have you carried forward any skills learnt into your everyday life?

Teaching has made me understand children's unique differential
development. They can react and adapt to every changing situation, especially during these unprecedented times.

How have you found the last year coping with the dramatic changes the world has seen regarding the global pandemic?

The past year has been very different and has taught me a good deal. I have taken up old hobbies; sewing and piano playing. All my lessons have gone online and many problems of being a Private Tutor have gone away. I no longer have to travel, find parking and carry heavy bags up long staircases of houses (particularly in Hampstead). All my resources are more accessible online, and my pupils have helped and encouraged me to work with Zoom and other teaching platforms. However, I would like to see my students in person, and I hope that will be soon.

What are you most looking forward to when we finally get back to something resembling normality?

After this pandemic I am looking forward to spending not so much time with computers. Going to the theatre, art galleries, shopping and hopefully travelling again and seeing my family properly.

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