We're back in stock! | FREE shipping for local orders over R500
This month's question:
Who was your most influential teacher in school? What impact did they have on your life?
There have been 17 answers to this question so far.
Keep Reading

Stories from Strangers

We’ll have a new question here every month for you to answer and engage with. Think of this as an online journal, except everyone gets a page in the book, and no one knows who’s written what (fun!).

Pour your heart out or read through the pages of someone else’s heart. Either way, we hope you find comfort in reading these stories from strangers.

Who was your most influential teacher in school? What impact did they have on your life?

  • Anonymous

    All throughout my school years, I had wonderful teachers at crucial times who were like beacons of light to me. But probably the most influential was my drama teacher from grades 10-12. Of all the impactful things she did as my teacher, one night’s rehearsal stands out. I remember having an after-hours rehearsal with her for an individual piece I was preparing for an exam, but I just could not connect emotionally and let go of my fear of failure. I couldn’t break free from being inhibited, and this kept me from fully becoming the character and living that piece in that moment. My teacher stopped me, and took me outside. It was around 10pm at night, and we went to the school’s empty parking lot. Standing there with her, she told me to scream at the top of my lungs. It was perfect – being nighttime, no one else was around, and I could just let go. So I shouted, screamed and perhaps she did, too. I can’t remember. But I do know that after that, I felt free. I was able to act freely and let go of the fear that I wouldn’t do well enough. Needless to say, I passed my exam when I finally performed my piece. Today, this teacher is actually a friend of mine, and we connect regularly. She wasn’t just a teacher. She helped me regain the confidence that years of bullying in primary school had knocked out of me, and I began to learn that I don’t need to fear failure.

    1
  • Anonymous

    My Grade 9 English teacher. She spoke so beautifully, and she inspired me to learn lots of new words. Today, I am often complimented on how articulate I am and what an excellent command of the english language I have. Because I was so in awe of her, I also trusted her and shared many conversations with her about things that were close to my heart. She always knew how to hold space and what to say. Loved and appreciated her.

    3
  • Anonymous

    My grade 12 life orientation teacher Mrs Barrett-Theron. I was enduring a lot of stress and trauma at this stage in my life, and was suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. Evidently, I looked really ill and practically on the verge of losing consciousness. This kind soul of a teacher pulled me aside after class one morning and asked if everything was okay. I tried to lie and say everything is alright, but the minute I opened my mouth to talk, tears were rushing down my face. She took me to her office (she was also the school guidance counsellor) and we spoke for an hour – needless to say it was the quickest hour of my life. I had never had the opportunity to open up to anyone about what I was facing. I went to her every week for the rest of the year, and she completely changed my life. I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for her. She still messages me to this day (4 years later) to check in! The fact that a teacher was so willing to help, but didn’t *have* to was the greatest comfort in my school years. I don’t think teachers realise how much a tiny bit of an observation can change someone’s life.

    3
  • Anonymous

    My grade 6 teacher, Mr Whitaker. He would keep us totally captivated with wild stories about his experiences in the bush, like when he was with a friend who was bitten by a crocodile, and had to fight it off with his bare hands.

    Were the stories true? Who knows, but he inspired creativity and the use of poetic license in us all. He really believed in his students, and made us believe that we were capable of anything we set our minds to.

  • Anonymous

    Ms Harrison – my geography teacher. She was cool, funny and kind. But best of all, she always treated us with respect – even when we were being little sh*ts ???? She understood that we were kids, and always met us where we were at.

    She was full of wisdom and tidbits about how to be a kinder human. I remember her once giving a passionate speech about how important it is to do things simply for the sake of making someone else’s life easier. Her example was pulling down the next roll of loo paper if you finished it. Since then, if I ever finish the loo roll in a public loo – I ALWAYS pull down the next roll & think about Ms Harrison: the kindest teacher I knew.

    3
  • Anonymous

    I have 2: My drama teacher who just “got me”. He saw he through 2 years of drama in high school and then helped me get into my dream course at university. We are now great friends.

    My second is my Afrikaans teacher from high school. She was known as “tough” and honestly I was scared to be placed with her in the 8th grade. Over the course of 5 years she taught me that frustration is part of learning, that if you do the work you will succeed and not to judge a book by its cover. She has left South Africa now but if I ever go to her new country to meet up with her.

    1
  • Anonymous

    In matric, I missed out on being in the top set by a percentage and with that, I lost being in home room with my two best (and only) friends in Highschool. Their home room teacher allowed me to hang out with them every morning and at break times, even though I wasn’t in her class, and I’m just so grateful for that. Matric was a hard year with my parents separating and dealing with an eating disorder. I am so grateful for Mrs Rossouw who saw me and took me in, and gave me a soft place to land

    5
  • Anonymous

    Mrs. Joseph was her name. On initial introduction I wasn’t too chuffed to have been placed in her art class – all my friends were in the other art class with the seemingly ‘cooler’ teacher – and much to my dismay I couldn’t change over.

    When it came to academics, my high school years were a blur of perfectionism mixed in with a strong drive to be the best… at everything. And I think it’s important to differentiate between perfectionism and excellence – there’s a fine line between the two – and I wasn’t even dancing on that line, my feet were firmly planted in the perfectionist camp and honestly, it was crippling.

    I remember being in her class, and with art being my top subject I felt immense pressure to perform and come first in the class. I had chosen pencil as my medium – it was perfect – I could draw well and if I ever made a mistake, I could just rub it out.

    I can’t remember at what point her teacher’s intuition kicked in, but she started to set these ‘challenges’ for our class, but they really felt like they were designed specifically for me. First up, a 20-minute charcoal drawing of a rose in a brown paper bag – okay, I can’t really rub that out but I can use my finger to smudge out any imperfections – we’ll make it work. Next up, a 10-minute pen drawing of a crumpled can. A PEN DRAWING, the absurdity! I’m sorry ma’am, but that’s just not going to happen. I remember bargaining with her to change to a pencil, and she gently pushed back and insisted this was in fact a ‘pen challenge’. I know this all sounds quite silly, but what was happening in my brain as I took pen to paper was far more than a little drawing of a crumpled can.

    She continued to push me into spaces that felt so uncomfortable and so exposing, and slowly but surely tore down my perfectionist walls. Her art room became a safe place for me to learn how to fail. She showed me that mistakes were not only okay, but that they were beautiful.

    I haven’t drawn in a while, but in a strange ode to Mrs. Joseph, I do all my Sudokus in pen. Beautiful and messy and crossed-out mistakes for all the world to see.

    11
  • Anonymous

    I’m painfully quiet but my AP English teacher made sure everyone in the class contributed. We got into extremely fiery debates (did Daisy love Tom in Gatsby was a big one) and everyone was encouraged to weigh in.

    Dr Leaver made me feel like my opinions were worth sharing which has changed the way I approach group situations <3

    3
  • Anonymous

    Most of my English teachers…but especially Miss Craig (Std 9). I’d written an essay about wanting to get into the Waterfront Theatre School and study dance. Her comment was ‘Forget dancing! Become a writer!’ And so I did ✍️❤️ (20+ years and still wordsmithing for a living)

    3
  • Anonymous

    My history teacher, Mrs Collier. She had such a huge impact on every single student she taught. She knew what each person was capable and made sure we worked hard to achieve that. But most importantly, she taught us within context. Everything we learnt with her was focused around skills we could use, principles we could apply or what something meant in relation to other things. For that reason, I still remember everything she taught me. I truly understood what I learnt. Nothing was parrot learnt. I still have her voice in my head advising me on how to structure a paragraph when I write presentations. I hope she knows how amazing she is.

    1
  • Anonymous

    I was lucky enough to have the same teacher for my Grade 1 and Grace 3 year. She was an older teacher and would always put on the best accents when reading stories.. I can fondly remember the BFG. I don’t know why she comes to mind but when I think back I was the happiest & safest I felt through out my schooling career. She just made me feel special

    1
  • Anonymous

    I had 2 teachers that changed my life for the better. They are a husband and wife duo – one was my high school maths teacher and the other was my Afrikaans teacher. My parents were going through a divorce, I was trying to conquer the transition of becoming a teenager and discovering who I was.
    I very quickly found myself in the wrong group of friends and if it wasn’t for them, I probably would’ve ended up as a high school drop out. They loved me as if they were my second parents and I often found myself seeking guidance from them when home felt like a scary place to be.

    Because of them, I’m a teacher today and hope that I can be that same escape/safe place for children who need it ????

    3
  • Anonymous

    None!
    I loved school and easily coasted along mostly getting A’s and B’s
    But looking back I had/have serious self belief issues. So I put very little effort in over and above my natural ability, which didn’t payoff after school in tertiary education.. it’s something I am only realising and working on now…
    Wouldn’t it be amazing if teachers then were as concerned with the mental health and self esteem of a student as they were with our marks and grades…

    1
  • Anonymous

    My grade nine Geo & Tech teachers.
    My grade nine started off so rocky with my dad being hospitalised and we were just not in a great space as a family and because of I felt to hide away from my classmates because I felt like everyone could see my struggles, and these two incredible women would often check in, allow me to stay in their classrooms during break and just encouraged me to get better

    1
  • Anonymous

    My most influential teacher was my swimming coach. I had the potential to be a national swimmer but it wasn’t what I wanted. It’s a lonely sport and to compete at that level you have to dedicate so much time to it.

    Even though he saw the potential he listened, never put undue pressure on me, taught me how to set goals, and tailored my training to meet those goals. At galas he was by the side of the pool for every single one of his swimmers’ races.

    His pool was always cold as fuck but he was the best at what he did.

    5
  • Anonymous

    My grade one teacher, Mrs. Antrobus. I remember her classes from 1982 better than most from the remainder of my schooling!
    She was magical, inspiring and brilliantly creative. She set the foundation for my education and love of the arts ❤️

    4

Want more questions?

Cards for Conversation may look like a small box but the questions it contains are big. Play it with friends, family, and strangers to move past the ‘howzits’ and create spaces for connecting, processing, and feeling known.
Buy a box

From the archives

November 23's question:
What is one event in your life that you wish you could change, and how would you change it?
There have been 4 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
October 23's question:
When you think of the word ‘rejection’, what memory comes to mind?
There have been 24 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
September 23's question:
What is the most intense pain you’ve experienced that wasn’t physical?
There have been 17 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
August 23's question:
When you think of the word ‘disappointment’, what memory comes to mind?
There have been 18 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
May 23's question:
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the past year?
There have been 6 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
May 23's question:
When was the last time you felt lonely, and what made you feel that way?
There have been 23 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
April 23's question:
Is there a family tradition from your childhood that you have instilled, or would like to one day instil, in your own family?
There have been 9 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
February 23's question:
What is the kindest thing someone has done for you in the past year?
There have been 15 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
January 23's question:
What has been your biggest victory in the past year?
There have been 29 answers to this question.
Keep Reading
December 22's question:
When was the last time you felt brave? What were you doing that made you feel that way?
There have been 37 answers to this question.
Keep Reading