Mary Monica Bishop, known as Monica, went to Oxford in 1939 to read French. She was a student at the Society of Home-Students which eventually became St Anne’s College, a full college of the university. She taught French at JAGS from 1949 to 1964, where she also taught cello. Her death was reported in 2016. Margaret MacLeod taught Biology at JAGS from 1953 until she took early retirement. She died on 21 June 2016 aged 88.
Well, I was not a natural linguist, too shy and self-conscious in those days, and we were taught rather formally, don't you think? I think I would have got on much better with modern methods of language labs, tapes etc and a less literary and more practical approach. But nevertheless, Miss B managed to inculcate in me, her pupil only to O level, a recognition of what was a decent French accent, even if I could not always attain it, though she did (once!) compliment me on my good open 'a's (my Geordie background helped there); and she gave me quite decent literary awareness (remember Le Noeud de vipères?), and enough cultural knowledge to encourage me later to share a house in France for eleven years, and get to know and appreciate that marvellous country. Do you remember her urging us early on to make a scrapbook collection of French material? I went off to the Piccadilly offices of the French Tourist board or whatever for leaflets and posters, and collected wine and cheese labels.. . . . It was a good start. Miss Bishop in retrospect seems now to have looked like a very typical 1950s Frenchwoman, even to her hair style! And, do you remember, we all had to have French names, and for some reason she christened me Genevieve, which even now I feel belongs to me. It was impressive that she seemed to be able to remember both our own names and our noms de plume. We also ended up with French pen friends through her. My correspondence eventually petered out, but, Thank you, Miss B.
Just wish we had been able to share more of these memories with both Miss M and Miss B. Miss Bishop was with us at one of our early JAGS reunions when we were in our forties. She looked just the same.Ann Edmunds
So sorry to hear about Miss MacLeod and Miss Bishop. They must have both reached an advanced age. From my point of view as a pupil, 50 plus years ago, they seemed middle-aged. I guess they were actually quite young. Just shows how our viewpoint changes.
I do hope they enjoyed their retirement years. My first reaction was how sad it was that I have no specific memories to offer apart from liking both of them and appreciating their dedication to their profession and to their pupils.
It's a really good initiative to honour their memory with kinder and warmer words and recollections. All your wonderful memories have sent my thoughts back to leafy Dulwich after so many years. I have been so moved by what you have been writing and I too have started to ponder on times past.
In particular I remember Miss Bishop's face so well. Although I was one of the people who did French A-Level and then carried on to a degree in French, I must confess that until now I have never stopped to consider what an influence she did in fact have on me.
My French name in class was Michelle which I thought was wonderful after having been given such a name as Adrienne which I didn't like at all (thank heavens you all called me Andy). From the first lesson I was in love with French as I am till this day. I lapped up every lesson, every new word, every nuance of pronunciation, always feeling that I was in the hands of a real "teacher" and not just someone who went through the ritual of feeding us a syllabus.
Miss Bishop was the first person who showed me how to read and appreciate a text, discover the joy of literature and encourage creative thinking in what was a very formal education. This correspondence has given me the opportunity to look back and realise how much I owe to Miss Bishop and what a privilege it was to be her pupil.Adrienne Clyne (Bernstein)
I expect others have better memories but. . .
Miss Bishop was not an English teacher, but she taught me the blueprint for an essay. I used this for A levels and for University English and it stood me in good stead. I was forever grateful. I was no linguist but I got a B for A level French thanks to her excellent teaching.Linda Tuffield
Definitely one of the most influential and best teachers in my life, even if we never quite managed to call her Monica when we went to visit. Just a few random thoughts . . .
I remember being slightly scared of her but absolutely devoted at the same time. Best subject teacher I ever had. She collected a very committed group around her for French A-Level; we were passionate about the subject. I loved my A-level texts so much I even wrote to one of the writers [François Mauriac] – in French – to tell him how much I loved his book. This was a kind of love letter with Miss Bishop as the hidden third party.
She was writing on the board one day and suddenly said, quite casually, "I shall stop now or else I will fall in the waste bin". We thought this was hysterical.
I think we learnt to sound French – she put such emphasis on pronunciation. Our children were good linguists but never sounded half as native as we did.
I remember visiting her when we were properly grown up and she told us to call her Monica. Couldn't be done! But I was touched when she saw my daughter coming downstairs and said "oh, another Ruth!" And I think she probably did remember me from those sixth form days.
I always think of her when we drive or walk near Otford. What a splendid woman. She certainly deserves our memories and our thanks.
These are such lovely memories – and all different in detail but similar in spirit. Would that she could hear them! Do you think she knew how great we thought she was?Ruth Fisher (Morgan)
Like Ruth my memories are mainly about Miss Bishop. She was an inspirational French teacher – I remember her walking into our first lesson speaking French; her accent was excellent and consequently so were ours. She got me a job in the summer after A levels as an au pair with a French family – friends of hers. It wasn't a great success because although my French (after 5 years of her teaching) was very good, my child-care skills were less so!
Through her musical interests she was friends with my parents; and I think that was the link that allowed Ruth to find me for our first reunion.Sheila Brown (James)
I was very fond of Miss Bishop – she never taught me in class but she was my cello teacher for 2 years, and was great – encouraging but firm, and really good at spotting where the problems were arising. I remember after one exam season, when she had been invigilating, she started the next cello lesson with, "no wonder you're having difficulty with bowing – I hadn't seen you write before, and I didn't know you were left-handed."Liz Brown (Breuilly), Sheila’s younger sister
I share so many of these feelings about Miss B – a brilliant teacher and such a warm, intelligent woman who spoke to us as adults and with subtle humour. Like Ann and Ruth I’ll always remember reading Mauriac’s Le Noeud de vipères with her. We seemed to go so deep into the text – to me, it was a heady trip.
I loved French, and my ambition, largely at my mother’s suggestion, was to become a bilingual secretary. That would have been fine in itself, but Miss B gently steered me towards the idea of university. Like many of us I was the first person in my family ever to go to uni. But, ironically, I felt then and still do that if I ever reached an intellectual peak[?!] it was during that A level work with Miss B, and also, I must say, with Miss Griffiths [Latin] and Miss Walker [German], who were great teachers too. We are so lucky to have known them all.Jane Olorenshaw
MISS MACLEOD [from left] Dr Peach, Ann Edmunds, Frances Beswick, Sheila Brown, Yvonne Monks, Christine Upsdell, Christine Ellison, Gillian Hudson and Miss MacLeod, at London Zoo. Photo taken by Madeleine Aston.
I have so many fond memories of Miss MacLeod and Dr Peach and the biology experiments we did and not to forget the sex education lessons. They both inspired me to become a nurse at Westminster Hospital, then Health Visitor and later, moving to the USA, getting a Masters degree in Health Education. I then taught basic biology, science and sex ed. for 20 years in a State School teaching 5–12 year olds.
I regret never going back to JAGS and telling them what a difference they had made towards a very happy and fulfilling career. Chris Alley (Chapman)
Dr Peach and Miss MacLeod were the catalysts for my interest in science and how the world and the human body work and they were the key to my subsequent "career” in medicine.
I say "career" advisedly as it could be seen as an entity which totally takes over your life, thief of time, interests, ability. Nevertheless it did enable me to work around the world and keep working when I emigrated and is proving difficult to let go as it is still my passion.
I believe we were privileged to have such enthusiastic, knowledgeable and caring teachers, and although we did have "life advice", a bit of careers advice would not have gone amiss.
Or maybe it was just the times – I was informed there were no careers combining science and geography . . . and now it’s big business!Frances Beswick (Beswick-Price)
Of course I remember both Miss MacLeod and Dr Peach. They were a huge influence on my academic career. I read Zoology at Oxford (BA) and Univ. of California, Berkeley (MA). Miss MacLeod was so thoughtful and encouraging. Her teaching was clear, concise and fact-filled.Chris Cocker (Hessler)
I was part of a small group doing A-level biology with Miss MacLeod and Dr Peach. It’s testament to their teaching that we all achieved an A (quite special in those days) and three of us went on to do medicine and one dentistry which was also remarkable for the early 60s. They both treated us as adults and my self-confidence began to grow through their approach!
It’s been so interesting to read your comments about Miss MacLeod – she had an inner spiritual life that she maintained though every crisis! Whether teaching us sex education or dissecting frogs!
I hope the reminiscences keep coming . . . we owe so much to these wonderful women who taught us well . . .Margaret Fisher (Hooper)
I was only Miss M's pupil to O level, but of course she taught me all I know about reproduction! Rabbit dissection, sex education films (someone, who shall be nameless, fainted off her high stool in the blackened out lab). Miss M seemed to me always very calm and serene, and gave off a real aura of other worldliness. I remember her telling us about the time she woke up and felt an arm around her neck, only to eventually realise it was her own numbed one! She had a lovely smile.
I now have a stepdaughter living in Hollingbourne Road, where I think Miss M lived for a while, and I think of her every time I visit..
Just wish we had been able to share more of these memories with both Miss M and Miss B. I never saw Miss M again after school.Ann Edmunds
Miss MacLeod did indeed rent some rooms/a flat in Hollingbourne Rd, directly opposite my house for a couple of years when I was in my early teens. On occasion we would exit our front doors at the same time and walk to school together. With some JAGS staff that would have been a nightmare, but not with her.
She always treated me as an adult and conversation ranged far and wide. She quickly sussed that I enjoyed talking about what I was reading and I remember trying to explain the intricacies of The Lord of the Rings to her, with Tolkien's invented languages (poor woman!).
She was a Quaker but was at that time converting to Catholicism, which obviously gave her great joy. She was such a deeply spiritual person that I wondered if she might go the whole hog and become a nun, but of course I never asked her! A holiday in Rome, however, proved too hot and noisy, and she far preferred staying one summer with a family in Finland. She said that she fell in love with the lakes and forests and the serenity of the landscape.
She was, in fact, a truly lovely person.Jo Nind (Barnes)
Miss MacLeod was always jovial but sometimes missed the point.
I asked her "What is a rhesus baby?" She misheard this as what is the reason for a baby
and attempted to explain this somewhat metaphysical concept.
In LV she was our form teacher and we registered in her lab. There was a glass-topped specimen case on the left as we went in, with assorted labelled items. I put a banana in with the legend Lesser Spotted Whatnot.
(Daring or what? This was 1960.) Miss M took it in good humour.Linda Tuffield
Been friends with Margaret & Marcelle (who shared similar religious interests – they met at a retreat, and ended up sharing a house) ever since I saw them on Herne Hill station, sometime in the 90s, and introduced myself. Whether Margaret remembered me or not from school is still debatable, but she welcomed me and Jeanne, with generosity, and from then on was a dear friend.
Unfortunately, my accident kept me away for the last two years, but we kept in touch on the phone. Dear Margaret was coping with a leaking valve in her heart and both of them had been housebound for quite a few years.
However, I’ve been feeling stronger now and, luckily, went to see them in May. They enjoyed their outing to Cafe Rouge in the Village, and we had an interesting reminisce and laugh about school, looking at a photo of the staff in 1957.
She was very slow and very sweet and, at parting, she said she was decluttering, as she didn't have too much time left, and just in case she didn't see us again, she gave me a pretty little teapot. I was very sad, but said ‘what nonsense’ and that I'd see her again soon. She must have known!
She had a lovely sense of humour, and an ever enquiring mind. She had a most wonderful, calming aura. One felt one was in the presence of goodness. She was a really lovely lady and I miss her.Virsis Shroff