My Inspirational Teacher: by A World at School website developers

From left to right: Caroline, Elizabeth, Medina, Raluca

As part of our My Inspirational Teacher series we talk to four digital design and development specialists who worked on recent changes to A World at School’s website carried out by the global IT company Thoughtworks. They’re passionate about girls’ education and getting more women into the IT industry.

The four are (in alphabetical order):

Developer who is originally from the Netherlands but has lived in England for seven years. Loves all things tech and passionate about getting more women into IT. 

User experience designer from Manchester, England. An advocate for education, she runs Code Clubs and works with CodeFirst:Girls, holding workshops and teaching students about the technology industry. 

Fom Kazakhstan. Moved to the UK two years ago to do her Masters and stayed on to work in the IT industry.

From Romania. Recent computer science graduate from the University of Manchester. Now a software developer at ThoughtWorks.

Who was the teacher, or person, who really mattered in your life?

CAROLINE (pictured above): It was my French teacher and mentor Gretha. She was my French teacher for only one year but remained my mentor for the rest of my school career.

ELIZABETH: At college my computing teacher Mr Prior helped lead me down the path into choosing development as a career.

MEDINA: I have met many people who have inspired and influenced me in different ways. If I had to choose one it would be my first programming teacher at university, Akshabayev Askar.

RALUCA: It has to be my primary school teacher from back home – Iuliana Munteanu.


What did they say or do to make them so special?

CAROLINE: I went through a typical self-centred, lazy period as a teenager and she stood by me. She was always there for me when I needed her.

ELIZABETH (pictured above): Mr Prior saw the passion I had for the subject and would put up with me sitting in protest in his room over lunch until my code finally worked. The extra support has guided me into a career.

MEDINA: I went to university with no programming experience and a huge passion to learn but a big fear of failure. Askar shared great knowledge and awakened in me an even greater interest in programming, he was very supportive and encouraging. Despite his young age he is a very wise and talented teacher.

RALUCA: She saw my potential and challenged me constantly throughout the four years. She insisted I take part in various competitions, mostly focused on maths, and kept me engaged and motivated.

What was the moment you realised this person was influential to you?

CAROLINE: When she was determined to help me get good grades for mathematics, despite her being a French teacher. We struggled quite a bit with my maths homework but in the end it all paid off. I ended up getting an A for my final exam.

ELIZABETH: When I got my first job that felt like a career, when I felt I was exactly where I had wanted to be for the last six years of choosing my career path. Mr Prior was where it had all begun at A Level.

MEDINA (pictured above): When I was at a crossroads between choosing to do my Masters in the UK and starting my career straight away after graduating in Kazakhstan. I asked Askar for his advice and here I am – working for an innovative IT company in the UK.

RALUCA: At the end of the four years, when she wasn’t my teacher anymore. Only upon interacting with other teachers did I notice how special she is and how much she helped me grow. I have not met a lot of teachers so committed to their jobs.

Would you have been successful without this person’s encouragement?

CAROLINE: That’s hard to say. I would have not taken the path I have done now.

ELIZABETH: I’ve always been lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends and my mum. Mr Prior’s support will always be cherished and valued as a part of my success.

MEDINA: I think I would but may be it would be a different kind of success.

RALUCA (pictured above): There’s no way of knowing for sure but I highly doubt it. People like her are rare and she’s a true inspiration to everyone she works with.

Did you stay in touch with them?

CAROLINE: I’ve seen her once after my graduation. I’d like to catch up with her though! She still works at my old school.

ELIZABETH: Unfortunately I’ve never been in contact since leaving colleg, but I’ve always had a nagging feeling to send over an email.

MEDINA: After I completed the courses he taught me, two years later I asked him to be my diploma work supervisor.

RALUCA: Unfortunately not. I left Romania a while back and have not seen her since.

Did you ever tell them what they meant to you?

CAROLINE: I did not! Gretha, thank you for all the hard work you put into me.

ELIZABETH: I’ve never had the opportunity to thank Mr Prior or tell him what he meant, as I lost contact immediately after leaving college.

MEDINA: No, unfortunately, I did not, but may be he will read this article 🙂

RALUCA: I made sure she knows how much she helped me from the very beginning. 

Who in the world today would you describe as inspirational?

CAROLINE: Malala Yousafzai. When I was her age I did not take school seriously enough, which I really regret. There are hundreds and thousands of children in this world who would do anything for the chances I’ve had.

ELIZABETH: I believe when someone has the motivation, enthusiasm and drive to achieve what they want, they are an inspiration.

MEDINA: I have a big variety of interests. So there are lots and lots of people who inspire me in different ways.

RALUCA: It’s going to sound really cheesy but you can be inspired by everyone. People come from different backgrounds, have different stories and fight battles you know nothing about. If you bother listening to their story you’ll see the world from a different perspective, which might inspire you to make a change in your life.