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News > Alumna Visits > Reuniting with Mrs Stephanie Weller (Whittaker)

Reuniting with Mrs Stephanie Weller (Whittaker)

Mrs Stephanie Weller (Whittaker)
Mrs Stephanie Weller (Whittaker)

By Sylvia Tai

"In March I had the privilege to spend time with Mrs Stephanie Weller, former Watford Grammar School for Girls pupil, parent and then grandparent of former Watford Girls.

Born in 1927 she joined Watford Grammar School for Girls in 1938. Miss Davidson had just become the Headmistress, she recalls that she was young, very good and fair.  Stephanie has a lasting memory of sitting in “the Dungeons” during air raids and knitting to distract herself. With very little public transport and very few private cars, students walked or cycled, including students from Bedmond and surrounding villages. The food was awful, but with rationing and poor supplies it was understandable. Stephanie loved sport and became the captain of the netball team. The team travelled to other schools via Tube or bus and she remembers being carried by her friends back from Watford Met line when she twisted her ankle.

One morning a new student was seated next to Stephanie who passed her a note (something WGGS students never did!) saying “will you be my friend?”. A long friendship developed including adding notes to each other's letters such as the ones to her friend’s brother who had been posted to East Asia for over 4 years. Little did she expect that this friendship would introduce her to her future husband, her friend's brother!

Following A levels Stephanie attended St Katherine’s College, linked to University College London, and pursued a career in teaching. She started her career teaching at a school in Ruislip and then moved to be an English Teacher in Langleybury School, just outside Watford. This is where our paths crossed when she became my English teacher and had a huge influence in my life. Mrs Weller, as I will always know her, was an outstanding teacher. She was strict, inspired her students to learn and love each text and had high expectations of everyone. Without her belief in me, I very much doubt I would have passed O level English and qualified to teach. I have followed her example of expecting students to stand and say ‘Good Morning or Good Afternoon’ to start each lesson throughout my 30-year career.  

Both Mrs Weller’s daughter Sarah, and granddaughter Sophie joined WGGS, with Sophie becoming Head Girl in 2002. It was through Sophie that I was able to make contact, as she returned to school to present at the recent Careers Fair.  

I have always asked our students to look to the Old Grammarian's for their inspiration. As people who have come from their own community and received the same form of education, they can know that the huge range of careers and achievements are within their grasp. Little did I know that the person who inspired me, was from the very school that I am privileged to lead."  

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