Written by Inja van Soest
In the world of fame and glamour, there’s often an untold story of deep gratitude for teachers. One such heartwarming moment unfolded during Adele’s concert special, “An Audience with Adele,” in 2021, in which the audience witnessed the profound impact of a year eight teacher on an internationally known singer and songwriter.
Amidst the performance, Emma Thompson, an actress herself, posed a simple yet profound question to Adele. She asked whether Adele had anyone who had been truly inspiring and supportive in her youth. Adele’s response was spontaneous and filled with genuine warmth. With a hint of nostalgia in her voice, Adele shared her high school English teacher, Miss McDonald, with the audience. “It was just one year, but she got me really into literature. Like, I’ve always been obsessed with English, and obviously now I write lyrics,” Adele revealed. She also confessed that whilst Miss McDonald taught street dance, Adele was too shy to join her course. What stood out in Adele’s recollection was Miss McDonald’s unique charm. “She was so bloody cool. So engaging. She really made us care, and we knew that she cared about us.” What seemed to have left an impression was how she used to dress, with gold bracelets and sequins, with her appreciation for her teacher being tangible in her voice and her very British way of speaking about her teacher, with warmth but the typical directness and an amount of hard truth being tangible.
As Emma Thompson continued the conversation, the audience erupted in cheers. Adele, tears of joy streaming down her face, broke into a radiant smile as she realised her beloved teacher, Miss McDonald, was present. In a touching moment, teacher and student embraced, and Adele publicly acknowledged how Miss McDonald had “changed her life.”
Adele’s story of teacher appreciation is not the only one that has been shared. In 2017, John Legend wrote an article for the Huffington Post, expressing hope for future generations due to the incredible educators who influenced his life. He paid tribute to his English teacher, Mrs Bodey, saying, “Until her class, I hadn’t believed in my ability as a writer. She recognised my potential and showed me that I could write with creativity, clarity, and passion.” Legend credited teachers like Mrs. Bodey for instilling the confidence to chase his dreams.
Dr Maya Angelou, the literary icon, once spoke reverently about her neighbour and teacher, Bertha Flowers. Angelou attested that Flowers remained a guiding light throughout her life, symbolising the kindness and grace that humanity could embody.
The influence of teachers extends far beyond music and literature. Numerous actors, musicians, writers, artists, and world leaders have testified to the profound impact of their educators.
Take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a globally respected democratic politician known for her direct and evidence-based political approach. In 2020, she received a heartfelt message from a teacher on Twitter, prompting her to express gratitude for her unwavering support and belief in her during her formative years.
Teachers play a pivotal role in the lives of young people, shaping how they view themselves, learn, and engage with the world. Teachers possess the extraordinary ability to make students feel seen and valued, nurturing a sense of purpose and direction.
As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day, let’s take a moment to reflect on the teachers who have left a lasting mark on our lives and the countless others who have ignited greatness in the world’s most celebrated individuals. Teachers are the unsung heroes shaping the future, one student at a time, leaving behind a lasting legacy of knowledge, compassion, and empowerment.
Today, we honour and thank the educators who have illuminated our paths toward wisdom and a better, fairer and more inclusive future.