When we received the news that Terri Hull, history teacher at The Bishops’ Blue Coat CofE High School near Chester, was stepping into pastures new, we felt the need to pay tribute to her and her unrelenting commitment to learning outside the classroom. This summer, Terri will retire after 35 years of teaching history, during which time she has led more than 30 overseas trips, countless visits to local museums and numerous whole school enrichment activities.
During the 12 years we have known her, Terri has organised 19 overseas history trips and led over 1000 young people through the WWI Battlefields of Belgium, Northern France, Berlin and Russia. Fully embracing the benefits of learning outside of the classroom, Terri has given these pupils some of the most valuable and unforgettable experiences of their schooling life. She has given them the opportunity to lead the Exhortation and to place a wreath at the Menin Gate; she has taken them underground to see how Berlin’s citizens lived as their city was destroyed around them and she has led them through Moscow and St Petersburg in the footsteps of Lenin. Quite simply, Terri Hull has provided her pupils with a level of understanding that cannot be learnt from a textbook.
Over the years, Terri’s pedagogy has been led by two mottos – “Remembrance, Awareness and Responsibility” and “hearing is not like seeing”. These mottos are symptomatic of every one of Terri’s trips, alluding to those special moments that could never be replicated in the classroom. One such moment was when a pupil placed a wreath on the headstone of their great-great-grandfather at a Battlefield memorial site. This gesture is something that will stay with that pupil, and all those who were there, for the rest of their lives.
Enriching the learning of more than 1,200 young people, Terri’s overseas history trips not only provide academic supplement but they also enhance students’ personal, social and emotional development. Confronted with often new and complex emotions when visiting sites such as Sachsenhausen Memorial, it is hugely important that students learn to process these emotions with the support of peers and teachers. This supportive role is something that Terri has proudly adopted throughout her career.
As she prepares for her retirement, one of Terri’s greatest legacies is the wider offering of trips within her school. When she started at The Bishops’ Blue Coat CofE High School, the only organised trips on offer were ski and sport excursions; now, largely thanks to Terri, the culture at the school has changed and overseas curriculum-led trips have become increasingly common.
Leading two (sometimes three!) overseas trips every year is no mean feat and it takes a special teacher to maintain that level of commitment throughout their career. However, there can’t be many teachers who, at the end of their career, would happily state that they would do it all again. Terri Hull is that special teacher.
Our relationship with Terri has been an enjoyable one: her passion for her subject, together with her extensive history knowledge and her determination to deliver the best possible trips to her students has made her a pleasure to work with. We have worked with a number of brilliant party leaders but Terri takes the cake! Terri, we wish you all the best!