In case you don’t already know, Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. At first I wondered who on earth I could write about to mark such a day but, when I thought some more, there was one woman who stood out… one you’ll not have heard of. Her name is Joan Scott. The reason you won’t have heard of her is that Mrs Scott was a teacher at Wycombe High School when I was a student there from 1987 to 1993. I didn’t have much contact with her during my time in the lower school as she was a chemistry teacher and I went for the minimum amount of science that I could get away with at GCSE level, choosing only physics. However, our paths were to cross once I entered the sixth form.
I was at a loss when selecting my A-level subjects. I knew I wanted to study art and I also, rather stupidly, let the teachers talk me into taking mathematics due to my previous good record in the subject. However, I really didn’t know what to choose for subject number three. One of the options was to select a new subject that was only on offer at A-level and, for some reason, computing seemed rather a tempting choice. The teacher was Mrs Scott, who I had no knowledge of, and the subject sounded interesting and useful. This turned out to be a far far better choice than maths.
I spent the next two years thinking Mrs Scott was quite insane. Originally a chemistry teacher, she’d done further study and was now also teaching the business studies and computing A-level courses too. We giggled at her silliness, marvelled at the pinkish tint to her hair, smirked at the purple suit that she always turned up in on important days, and were stunned when she started naming squirrels in the bushes outside the window of our classroom. However, behind this quirky exterior, lurked a woman who really did know what she was doing and I only realised this on results day. She took a subject that we had no previous experience of and made it interesting. When we were drifting off in lessons, the talk of fluffy animals in the trees outside helped us snap back into reality and start concentrating on our work again. Mrs Scott helped me have fun during those two years and taught me some very useful things. She was one of the best teachers I had in my time at school.
For her services to science and technology education, and the little hologram brooch she always wore on that purple suit, Joan Scott really deserves to be remembered.
Image of Ada Lovelace via Nefi‘s Flickr photostream.