The Power of Appreciation: How thanking teachers nurtures growth of all kinds

Mark Lauder

Headmaster, Strathallan School

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At Strathallan, we recognise the profound influence teachers have on shaping future generations. As we bid farewell to our esteemed Senior Master, Mr. David Barnes, retiring this term after an extraordinary 42 years of service, it’s essential to reflect on why expressing gratitude to teachers is fundamental for fostering future leaders in education and nurturing growth.

Since 1982, David Barnes, fondly known as ‘DJB,’ has been a cornerstone of our school in Perthshire. His passion for education and unwavering commitment to nurturing young minds have left an indelible mark on countless pupils, who have all expressed their thanks across social media this week. His legacy is a testament to the transformative power of dedicated teachers.

Strathallan School was founded in 1913 in Bridge of Allan, near Stirling, by a young 25-year-old teacher called Harry Riley. From his earliest days as Headmaster, Riley emphasized four key values:

  • Pupils should be known for who they are and as individuals.
  • Education should be enjoyed and not a drudgery.
  • Education should be inclusive, finding character, talents, and potential previously unknown.
  • Hard work is essential if education is to be the improving and transforming force for good Riley believed it could be.

These values have remained at the heart of our educational philosophy and are exemplified by the dedication of teachers like Mr. Barnes. From his early days as a Resident Tutor to his 21 years as Deputy Head of Pastoral and Head of Boarding, Mr. Barnes has shaped the lives of thousands of pupils, getting to know them and supporting their dreams. The impact of his dedication to education is far-reaching, and the hundreds of thousands of pounds he has raised through the Strath Kenya project over the years has helped children living in abject poverty to access life-changing educational resources.

Expressing gratitude to teachers like Mr. Barnes goes beyond mere appreciation; it is vital for inspiring future educators and personal growth. When students, parents, and colleagues recognize the dedication of teachers, it underscores the values we aim to instil through the profession. This acknowledgment can inspire former pupils to pursue careers in education, perpetuating a cycle of passion and excellence, or it can inspire them to become mentors and leaders in their own industries, benefiting the lives of others through their work.

As Mr. Barnes looks ahead to retirement, we want to thank him for his remarkable contributions. His love of teaching has crafted a legacy that has already inspired future generations to follow in his footsteps and put others first.


21 June 2024