Stuart Dorrian

I’ve posted before about my high school History of Art teacher, Robert Orme. The other incredibly formative teacher I had at high school was a gentleman named Stuart Dorrian.

He started at the school after me. I remember when he first strode into the room, dropping his leather satchel on the desk and confidently calling out “Alrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrright lads” in his dense scottish brogue. I had never seen anything like him. And knowing what I know now about joining a new class of kids, his entrance was pure gold.

He taught English. He did it very well. He wasn’t afraid of any topic, and challenged us all to be fair, open-minded people. His readings of texts were dense and insightful – I still have vivid memories of working through Graham Swift’s Waterland. He was the first person I knew who made talking about homosexuality not a big deal, which for a sheltered 14 year-old, was a big deal in and of itself. He was funny as hell, in a very wry way.

He was also the one teacher to made the transition from grade school teacher to young adult teacher effortless. Even though I stopped having him as a teacher, I would seek him out to say hi when I could. I remember one day – the last of classes for the year – when I went to go wish him a happy summer break. The kids in his class were rambunctiously out of control as they packed up to leave for the year. I asked if he was okay, and without a word he gently opened his leather satchel to reveal a small bottle of whiskey. “Oh, I’ll be fine,” he said with a wink.

As far as I can tell, he’s now the head of one of the departments at school. He would be awesome at it.

So hat’s off to Stuart Dorrian. I would be lucky to be the teacher he is.