Students plan permanent tribute after teacher dies

Leith Academy pupils who have set up a facebook tribute page to their teacher Mr Jim Wyllie who recently passed away. Pupils are Azeem Ditta, Bobby Dickens, James Burgess and Heather Lawrence

Leith Academy pupils who have set up a facebook tribute page to their teacher Mr Jim Wyllie who recently passed away. Pupils are Azeem Ditta, Bobby Dickens, James Burgess and Heather Lawrence

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PUPILS are to set up a permanent memorial to remember a popular teacher who died after spending nearly 33 years teaching at the same school.

Jim Wyllie – a teacher of craft, design and technology at Leith Academy – died at the Western General aged 53 after suffering a stroke last weekend.

He had spent his entire working life at the Academy, where news of his death left pupils in tears.

A Facebook page was set up in his honour by pupils and plans are now under way for a permanent memorial. More than 850 people have already signed up to the page and left messages of condolence.

Mr Wyllie was treated for a brain haemorrhage in February which left him blind. He was later transferred to the Astley Ainslie hospital for rehabilitation after showing signs of improvement but suffered a second stroke last weekend and died a few days later.

Azeem Ditta, 18, the sixth year pupil who set up the page, said: “Everyone loved Mr Wyllie – there was a silence in the entire school when we heard he was dead. People were crying. I could not stay in classes and had to leave school for the day.

“He was always there with a good joke. If you had a problem with what he was teaching, he would break it down for you in a way that other teachers would not – in a way that students would understand.

“No matter if you were a student of his or not, he would help you out. In a good way, he cared more about pupils than he did about his work.”

Headteacher Jack Simpson praised Mr Wyllie as a “devoted teacher” and said he would be speaking to pupils and staff about how his memory could be celebrated.

He said: “We would want something tangible to remember him by. In the past we have had plaques put on benches, planted trees, and instituted prizes awarded on an annual basis in areas that a particular member of staff was renowned and would be remembered for.

“I will be canvassing students and staff for their opinions on what we might do to remember Jim. Then I’ll be looking at the suggestions and coming to a decision on one.

“In terms of seeing staff and pupil reaction, there was a lot of grief and upset, and I think that indicates the respect and affection with which he was held by colleagues and pupils.

“Jim was someone who went the extra mile and saw pupils in terms of how they were developing as people.”

Liam Anderson, 20, a pupil between 2003 and 2009, said: “He was one of those teachers who would always have an eye out for kids he picked out as a bit more vulnerable and would take them under his wing.

“He had a passion for his job but he also spoke to the kids as people rather than looking down on them as pupils.”

Diane Anderson, chair of Leith Academy parent council, said: “All of the parents were saddened to hear the news. He really supported our kids and, as a parent, you got a sense of the huge loss.”