|Mrs. Augusts “Gussy” McLean|
|My mother, “Gussy”, as everybody knew her, was a 2nd Standard Teacher at M.E.H.S. from 1951 until 1965. She refused to have me or my sister in her class for fear that we might take advantage of her. As a result, Joanie and I had many moments of envy when our mom hugged the very many students she taught.
My mother was a “teacher’s teacher”. Her work was truly her vocation and she never stopped. In the afternoons, upon her return from teaching 2nd Standard students all day, she would provide private tutoring from 3:00 to 8:00 pm every night. It was an endless journey of work and she did it tirelessly and with passion.
I remember my mom always neatly dressed, in high heels, red lipstick, earrings, a french twist and her favorite perfume FLEUR DE LYS lingering on her handkerchiefs.
In 1965, my mother, father and youngest sibling, Joanie, sadly left Burma/Myanmar to settle in England. Shortly thereafter my sister joined me in Louisville, Kentucky. My mother and father remained in England and lived in the County of Surrey near the city of Croydon. It didn’t take Gussy long to get her feet on the ground and restart the profession she so loved.
She was teaching again, this time 1st graders with a special emphasis on foreign children whose second language was English. She remained teaching from 1965 to 1985 when she was forced to retire. Gussy did not last long being idle. She began a free tutorial program for foreign children in the Croydon borough office and soon had an after school program and Saturday classes for elementary school children.
My dad died in 1974 but this did not slow my mother down. Between the free tutorial program she ran and her continuation with private pupils, she remained a busy lady until 1990. At this point, she had sold her home and moved into a senior apartment building. She was no longer allowed to teach and most of her pupils had grown up. So Gussy then began a reading program for seniors at the Ronald House. She read to the seniors, did their secretarial work and ran their errands because many of them were non ambulatory and many of them had problems with their sight.
Gussy was involved with the British/Burma Expatriates Association in London and was very active with all her old friends from Burma, many of whom were teachers from good old MEHS (Mrs. Baxter, Mrs. Munro, Mrs. Evans, and Mrs. Edwards) to name a few. Her life in England was full and lively, but her heart always remained in the land of pagodas, lotus, thanaka, aunties, mohinga and most of all her memories as a 2nd Standard Teacher at MEHS.
Gussy died peacefully at age 83 on August 11, 1997 at St. Heliers Hospital in Surrey. She had incurable lymphoma and had become extremely weakened by her illness. To our great fortune, Joanie and I were present to honor the passing of our mother’s soul and to pay respect to a life of dedicated service.
We thank you all for reading this tribute and certainly add a special embrace to all the students who gave our mother Gussy Mclean the opportunity to express her life’s purpose.
Mary Ann McLean Constantinides