Teaching

Teachers: A Class with Your Name On It

This isn’t strictly a post about curriculum, or about creative academic writing. But it is about teaching, in a way; and about that curious state of being in loco parentis, so I make no apologies for posting this here.

In the early 2000s I re-trained to become a teacher. During my training, one of our lecturers delivered a bit of a body blow of a statement to our entire cohort, “Somewhere out there, is a class of about 30 kids with your name on it. A class who will take their school memories and a whole lot more directly from you.” About 400 student teachers went deathly quiet.

Sure, the first school I ended up at gave me some challenging individuals, but my main group, my form as they called it back then in England, was an absolute dream for a new teacher. Every one was simply a great kid, over which any parent would have been bursting with pride. I hope I didn’t screw them up too badly.

The photograph below was taken in 2004, at the date of this posting that was 11 years ago. They are all fine adults now, most I keep in touch with via social media, and they all have open invites to my family home in Canada if they’re ever passing my way. An invitation I don’t offer lightly.

Best form, in the best year group, in the best school in Witham. We were the best of the best.

Best form, in the best year group, in the best school in Witham. We were the best of the best.

As a teacher, you get placed into this strange position of being in loco parentis, Latin for in place of a parent, for a few hours every day. I don’t know what this means to most teachers, but I can say what it means to me 11 years on. I look at this photograph, and I am truly honored to have been a part of their lives, proud of what each one has become, and proud to call them my friends; even if only in the virtual world of social media.

On the top row, seventh in from the left of the picture, his right shoulder against a wooden pillar, is Jacob Nicol. He was always the tallest guy in the class, at 13 he was taller than most of his teachers. Jacob has grown into an all-round nice guy, intelligent, great sense of humor, fit, active, part of a close loving family with a promising career as a nautical engineer. I also had the pleasure of teaching his older sister, Jenade, for a brief period—another beautiful person, now a business-woman and mother of her own kids. To have stood in loco parentis for such people was a privilege that few teachers recognize at the time.

A few weeks ago Jacob’s career, in all probability, came to a sudden and tragic end…


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British sailor is left brain-damaged from fall off yacht owned by billionaire pal of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

  • Engineer Jacob Nicol, 22, was left brain-damaged from fall on 265ft yacht
  • He was hit on the head by 20-kilo hook, spent several minutes underwater
  • Jacob is undergoing lifesaving treatment at a hospital in Shropshire
  • The yacht is reportedly owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut, a close friend of Roman Abramovich

By Gerard Couzens and Tom Wyke for MailOnline

Published: 11:07 GMT, 27 May 2015 | Updated: 16:52 GMT, 27 May 2015 | Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3098822/British-sailor-left-brain-damaged-fall-yacht-owned-billionaire-pal-Chelsea-owner-Roman-Abramovich.html

A British sailor has been left brain-damaged after falling from a yacht owned by a billionaire friend of Chelsea supremo Roman Abramovich.

Engineer Jacob Nicol is undergoing lifesaving treatment at a hospital in Shropshire after being repatriated from Majorca. The 22-year-old’s loved ones yesterday released traumatic pictures of Jacob lying in hospital surrounded by tubes before he was flown back to the UK – as they claim his accident, which happened on May 3, could have been avoided.

The sailor, from Wadebridge, Cornwall, suffered injuries his family fear are irreversible after falling into the Med as he cleaned the Kibo yacht near the upmarket Majorcan port of Puerto Portals.

The incident is understood to have happened after the fender hook he was rigged to gave way.

He was hit on the head by the 20 kilo hook and spent several minutes underwater before being rescued by the yacht’s captain from the bottom of the sea.

Jacob waJacob 01s in a coma for 10 days at Son Espases Hospital in the Majorcan capital Palma before being repatriated.

The keen West Ham supporter is currently breathing through a tracheostomy tube attached to a ventilator and is on three different antibiotics to fight off infections in his lungs and throat.

Jacob was working as a third assistant engineer on 265ft-Kibo, owned by billionaire Alexander Mamut.

Russian billionaire Mr Mamut, 55, is said to count Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as a close personal friend. After graduating from Moscow State university, he made his fortune from investments in banking, insurance, publishing, film production, fashion design and radio.

Alongside several other wealthy Russian billionaires, he was influential in financing Boris Yeltsin’s successful campaign for re-election in 1996.

Mr Mamut’s investment company gained ownership of the British bookstore chain Waterstone’s in May 2011. Forbes estimates his personal wealth at around £1.7 billion, classing him the 36th wealthiest man in Russia.

Mr Mamut, from Moscow, whose wife Nadezhda Brezhnevais died, was not thought to have been on his super yacht when the accident happened.

A court in Palma is investigating the incident and has quizzed the captain and two other members of the yacht’s crew.

An investigating magistrate will decide once he has completed his probe whether anyone should face charges.

Mega-Yacht Kibo

265ft Mega-Yacht Kibo, the 74th largest yacht in the world. Mr Mamut, 55, is not thought to have been on-board when the accident happened.

Jacob is pictured pictured carrying out fire safety training as part of his engineering course. He joined the Kibo yacht as the third assistant engineer.

Jacob is pictured pictured carrying out fire safety training as part of his engineering course. He joined the Kibo yacht as the third assistant engineer.

In hospital: British engineer Jacob is undergoing lifesaving treatment at a hospital in Shropshire after being repatriated from Majorca.

In hospital: British engineer Jacob is undergoing lifesaving treatment at a hospital in Shropshire after being repatriated from Majorca.

Jacob’s family have set up a GoFundMe page to help fund his medical and legal costs, which had already raised over £3,000 by this morning. Jacob, from Wadebridge, Cornwall, is currently being cared for at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, Shropshire, where his sister, Jenade lives with her husband Chris.

Jacob’s mum Chrissie Long, 42, a health and safety officer, has moved to Shropshire so she can be nearer her son and put her house in Cornwall on the market. Sister Jenade, 25, a mum of three, said: ‘The doctors in Majorca were great and very honest.

‘He had severe brain swelling and they were talking about operating to remove scarring but couldn’t because he was in such a bad way.

‘They suggested we let the brain pressure take over and kill him and told us that if we tried to wake him up he’d be in a vegetative state and he would most likely consciously never open up his eyes by himself.

‘When they said that, it broke our world apart. ‘We could never make that decision, we could never feel comfortable making the decision not to help him regardless of the outcome.

‘The Spanish doctors said that if they did take the sedatives off and he was in a vegetative state, that over time he risked a life-threatening seizure which he could die from.

‘We’re facing a juggling act at getting the epileptic medicines at the right levels to suppress the seizures.

‘The infections he has picked up in the UK have required antibiotics which reduce the effectiveness of the epilepsy medication.

‘It’s a desperate situation. All the nurses and doctors can tell us at the moment is that he will never make a full recovery, that he will never be the Jacob he once was, he won’t be that cool, funny guy, he won’t be the same.

‘Basically he’s got very severe brain damage all over his brain due to the drowning.

‘They won’t give us a best case scenario.

‘Miracles do happen and some people who have been in comas and have been through similar situations before can come out alive and walking although they’re never the same person.

‘That’s what we’re holding onto, the fact that we’re not going to lose him completely.’

She added: ‘Jacob did have insurance through his workplace and the yacht’s owner has agreed to the management company paying for mum’s mortgage until she sells the house.

If you would like to donate to Jacob’s appeal, visit: http://www.gofundme.com/justiceforjacob

2015-06-05 13:30 GMT

2015-06-04 Update: What a brilliant day we have had! Jacob reached his right arm over to me, where I was sat on his left hand side. When I asked him if he wanted to hold my hand I reached over to him and he stretched his fingers out and grabbed my hand! A beautiful moment which has filled me with such positively and hope, feeling so blessed. Jacob also managed to move his arm around and lift it up ever so slightly, he moved his leg and moved his head!! What a day! Keep sending the positive vibes and healing prayers and thoughts x

2015-06-04 Update: What a brilliant day we have had! Jacob reached his right arm over to me, where I was sat on his left hand side. When I asked him if he wanted to hold my hand I reached over to him and he stretched his fingers out and grabbed my hand! A beautiful moment which has filled me with such positively and hope, feeling so blessed. Jacob also managed to move his arm around and lift it up ever so slightly, he moved his leg and moved his head!! What a day! Keep sending the positive vibes and healing prayers and thoughts x


That pretty much sums up Jacob’s position and that of his family at the moment.

I give my anonymous donation, I make a few Facebook posts, I send my love & support to Jenade and Chrissy, but at the end of the day, in loco parentis means I can’t really help. I’m not going to be the one that has to walk into Jacob’s hospital room every day, and for me time will lessen the impact as I look at my own kids and wish nothing like that ever happens to them.

Fundraising for #justiceforjacob means legal action that will highlight what led up to Jacob’s accident, and the eminently preventable circumstances which surrounded a tragedy which has struck an entire family and their loved ones.

For all the teachers I have worked with, educators at every level, students and colleagues, the system asks you to stand in place of a parent, then tells you where the boundaries of your feelings should lay. But I’m afraid it’s just not that simple. I’ve been asked why I care so much about Jacob and his family, after all I taught him and his sister more than 10 years ago. What can I say? We’re all human and subject to human emotions, albeit tempered with professionalism, and it is neither human nor humane to stop feeling when the bell rings at the end of the afternoon. I would care just as much about any of the kids that I have stood in front of over the years. You never forget the class with your name on it.

I suppose what I am trying to say is, don’t let professionalism be everything. If you didn’t care about the kids in your class, then they wouldn’t piss you off, they wouldn’t make you smile, pictures of them in a hospital bed wouldn’t make you cry like you were a kid again; and if you really don’t care, then you shouldn’t be in the job.

Spare something for Justice for Jacob.

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2 thoughts on “Teachers: A Class with Your Name On It

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with you…I am also in the teaching profession, and yes some students do piss you off at times but it is wonderful to see them progress, change and achieve their goals (even if they are small ones in some cases!). It is lovely to read your piece and to see the kind things that you have written about Jacob and his family, I am Jenade’s mother-in-law and I know how difficult it is for her, Chrissie and my son Christopher, not only do they visit Jacob every day but they also have to deal with the normal everyday chores of working, running a household, getting two lively girls ready for school each day and a two year old toddler! Life is hard for them at the moment and it has been wonderful to see such kindness from friends, family and strangers…long may it continue.

    Like

    • Thanks for taking the time to reply Gwen. Dealing with the everyday stuff life has to throw at us is usually more than tough enough without the tragic adding to the load. I can only imagine how your family is coping and the emotional impact of it all.

      When I taught in England, there were definitely days when I could gladly have just jacked the whole lot in and walked out the gate without a backward glance; but my class, full of people like Jacob and Jenade were what kept me in the job… and what made that job worthwhile. What do you say to people when they make your working life mean something? What would you do for them in the face of a catastrophe like this?

      Absolutely anything I bloody well can. My very, very best to all of you.

      Like

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