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Part II - The Young Teachers
by Margaret Luke (nee Thomas)
Three younger male teachers also remain stamped on my memory. Stuart (Sammy) Shaw, taught English, Religious Education and directed the school plays. It was through him that I developed a love of drama. I was not among his chosen leads but I sat in the wings as a prompter for “Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Coriolanus”. Under his tutorage, I became of age as far as Bible reading is concerned. I learnt so much about the compilation of the Gospels, was introduced to commentaries on the Bible and was challenged to begin to understand my own faith in a way that no church has ever been able to do before or since. He had a tremendous sense of humour and was never thrown by the ribald comments of the fourteen and fifteen year old boys, constantly out to embarrass him in front of the girls. He had very healthy approach to sexuality and an understanding of the need for teens to challenge the establishment on all occasions. If we did this in the presence of Sammy he usually turned the negative into a positive experience.

George Jones was a young flirt in our class, and it was during an Art class that the teacher, Ken Cooper, peered into the back of the room saying, “George, are you and Margaret Thomas holding hands back there?” “Why, sir?” replied George, “Are you jealous or what?” Ken had to crack up at his remark. He held his art classes in a demountable classroom way out in the middle of the games field. It took us at least ten minutes to walk from the main building and settle in to his room. But once there we always had a double
Margaret Luke (Thomas) ...cont'd

lesson and time flew. I didn’t realise at the time how skilled he was as a teacher In spite of paint brushes, easels etc, this was a calm class where most students were applauded for their creative talents. I always said that when I retired I would paint again. As a tribute to Ken I will yet.

It was compulsory for all students in the Grammar School to take at least three years of Latin, but we each had to also choose another language, Welsh, French, or German. I chose to learn my native language and because of that I came to know lslwyn Griffiths, not only as a teacher but as a friend. I was in the Grammar School for nine years and in Islwyn’s classes for all but two of those years. He was probably in his mid- thirties when he first came to teach. The war and national service combined had really interrupted his studies. He was married but had no children, though he and his wife Anne later adopted a child. I learned a lot about tolerance through this man. I remember a very frank discussion in his class about racial prejudice. I claimed I was not prejudiced, but he went on to prove that I was because - like most of my class members - I was not ready to accept mixed marriages. He maintained that when all the people in the world were coffee coloured then there might be a chance for world peace. He believed that we should be proud of Wales and the Welsh and set up a branch of Urdd Gobaith Cymru: Youth the hope of Wales, in the school. It was because of Islwyn that an International Summer Camp became a regular event at the Grammar School. Islwyn even managed to attract students from behind the Iron Curtain - this at the time of the cold war!
Margaret Luke
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