Life in Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School, Legon (PRESEC) was great and memorable. I learnt the concept of self-reliance and independence in those four walls and also discovered a lot about myself. Most of the discoveries I made would not have been possible without the help of the late Mrs. Charlotte Akyeampong. My name is Ato Ulzen-Appiah, and this is “My Teacher Story”.
Although form one in PRESEC was the ‘year of labour’, which equated to some of my worst moments, forms two and three were freer and more memorable and enjoyable. I became the assistant managing editor of the Presec Editorial Board and won all the debates, contests and quizzes I represented my school in. Though I didn’t make the National Science and Math Quiz team, I was fully occupied and setting records in other realms. I was always gainfully occupied one way or the other, so much so, my colleagues tagged me as “Hustler Appiah” and also “Chaarister” after my ability to string words together to my advantage, affectionately known in Presec as “chaa”. I also wrote with the editorial board under the pseudonym “Aristocrates”. Little did I know that my little drops of water were making the mighty ocean of experiences which made me a good candidate for success.
I thoroughly remember that my favourite subjects were Chemistry and Math. However, my favourite teacher had nothing to do with them. Mrs. Akyeampong taught English and Literature. You would always look forward to her classes because of how involving and engaging they were. She made English language so practical and interesting to all of us. She was also the patron for the Writers and Debaters’ club and patron of the Drama Club as well. She wrote plays that members of the club performed. She was an amazing tutor on how to debate and also trained members of the Drama club to act out their roles effortlessly (including us boys acting as women).
She was also the mother we never had while in school. Her counselling was top-notch. She used to talk to us about everything. From education, to career choices, to girls and life. When I had a severe bout of malaria while on campus, she practically became my mother and her care was mind blowing.
She guided us to do all the work for the annual school magazine and yearbook. We learned to stand on our own two feet by negotiating with the publishing companies and handling the creative direction and aesthetics. Relating with her made me more versatile. As protocol prefect in my final year at Presec, I got to work closely with her in this role of oversight for clubs and societies and leading school delegation to external events. As science students, my colleagues and I became inspired by her to take up roles in these literary arts clubs. I learnt a lot of soft skills by being in the same spaces as she was. I remember most of the members of the editorial board were science students and many of the students in the Drama club took up theatre and other arts related activities after high school as well.
She always name dropped and told us where old students of our school were, what they were doing and how they did it. This pushed us to network and also be mindful that we could also get to where they were and more. She always instilled in us the need for attention to detail; she was very particular about grammar,wording and editing, and it also translated as a life lesson. Time she spent reviewing my poetry and other writing made me a better writer.
It is more important to get role models and mentors to guide and direct students into the right direction. Good teachers like Mrs. Akyeampong all across Ghana should be encouraged so they can do better and hopefully inspire others to do the same. We need more selfless teachers, who should be engaged.
After school, I kept close contact with her. Even when I was not around to follow up on the recommendation letters she wrote for my university applications, she handled the tasks with aplomb. She attended my wedding and I always made time to visit her. My colleagues and I never spared a moment to tell her how much we loved her and appreciated her efforts and impact in our lives. We even held a book launch of some of her plays we managed to publish for her at PRESEC. One of the saddest days of my life was supposed to lose a happy one, but sadly my birthday 31st December 2019 was when I heard the news that she had passed on. It was a bitter pill for us all to swallow. Even though I wish she was still here with us, I am really glad we celebrated her in our own small way before she passed away.
If there was any chance to see her this minute, I would say: “Mrs. Charlotte Akyeampong, Thank you! I love you very much for the advice you gave me in the past knowingly and unknowingly, thank you for the character you showed during and after life in PRESEC. We will struggle to get anyone to say something bad about you; that is how great you were. Thank you for the motherly love and care. And thank you for inspiring a generation of writers, debaters, actors and all round leaders. Interacting with you made me a better leader and resource manager; time, human resource and knowledge. We will make sure your legacy lives on to ensure a much better Ghana, continent and world to live in. With all we learned from you, the world is a better place. Thank you”
Ato Ulzen-Appiah completed Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School, Legon in the year 2001. Did you attend Presbyterian Senior High School, Legon too? Were you a student of Mrs. Charlotte Akyeampong? Share your experience about how she impacted your life in the comments section.
Also, don’t hesitate to let us know what you think of Mrs. Akyeampong. Do you have a teacher who motivated and impacted your life in a way that made you who you are today? Share with us on “My Teacher Story” Whatsapp https://wa.link/dzccey