Roy Reardon (Staff 1973-2008)
Roy's valete from when he retired from CLS in 2008.. Detail for Roy's webcast funeral can be found at the bottom of this page.
"Roy Reardon joined CLS in 1973, which he has ruefully said recently is before a number of his current colleagues were born, and yet he barely seems to have aged in the intervening thirty-five years. Unless there is some Dorian Gray-like picture hidden in the darker recesses of the Modern Languages Department, his secret is initially difficult to fathom. Talk to those who have worked closely with him or those who have benefited from his teaching, however, and it becomes only too apparent. Unlike Wilde’s hero, Roy’s youthfulness is internal as well as external and it comes from his wonderful qualities of patience, great good humour, immense loyalty and deep love of teaching.
That is not to say that it has all been easy, for the bewildering array of characters with whom Roy has worked and the even more perplexing tidal wave of constant change that has beset the teaching of Modern Languages for at least the last thirty-odd years would have been more than enough to have made a lesser man’s hair fall out. When Roy started, the idea that pupils might actually converse in French or German, let alone listen to recordings of the language on such things as tape recorders, would have seemed dangerously revolutionary to some, as this was a time when fiendish grammatical primers, which would seem utterly daunting to all but the hardiest of S6 today, were regularly, and often quite literally, thrown at 2nd Formers. That the Modern Languages Department at CLS managed to move so smoothly via Longman’s Audio-Visual method to the communicative approach, and on through GCSE, new A-levels and beyond without ever losing its belief in the importance of academic rigour was down very largely to Roy. It was typical of his positive, clear-minded approach that, whilst never failing to apply his critical faculties to what was new, he was forward-thinking enough to appreciate the best aspects of all these changes and never once, in all his long career, look back through rose-tinted spectacles at the past.
As well as the ability to guide those in their charge through the pitfalls of curriculum change, the best Heads of Department ought, ideally, to have the respect of their colleagues for their subject knowledge. In this respect, again, it is difficult to imagine Roy’s superior, for his German is utterly faultless and his knowledge of the culture of the country profound, both on an everyday level, from so many and frequent visits, and on a serious academic level, as evidenced for example by his edition of Hans Fallada’s Kleiner Mann, was nun?.
Outstanding though he was as a Head of Modern Languages, there came a time, five years ago, when the thought of yet another annual update of the departmental handbook was more than Roy could bear. To the great delight of all his colleagues, however, this did not mark the end of his career for, knowing that he was far from ready to leave the classroom behind, he decided to carry on working part-time. How lucky for this latest generation of CLS linguists! They, like their predecessors, had the chance to discover what a wonderful teacher Roy is. His approach is gentle, his humour wry, his patience and his enthusiasm limitless, so that material he has taught countless times comes across to his pupils as fresh, and they realise that their attempts to master German or French really matter to their teacher.
Perfecting one’s linguistic skills is, of course, not something that is only done in the classroom and Roy’s great involvement with so many school trips, particularly his long-standing links with Hamburg, has done so much to benefit so many of his pupils. Exchanges have fallen from fashion these days, undermined all too often by unwillingness to participate or obsession with bureaucracy, but it is thanks to Roy’s firm belief in the value, social as well as linguistic, of these trips that our connection with Hamburg is still going strong and it is, quite rightly, a source of great pleasure to him that so many CLS boys have kept in touch with their exchange partners for such a long time after their initial contact.
German is, of course, not Roy’s only linguistic passion. He is a great Francophile, who speaks excellent French, a language he has taught at all levels here, and he has taken to Spain, especially one little corner of the north-east, so well in recent years, all of which reflects another great quality of his, open-mindedness."
It is this and the wealth of other personal qualities, however, for which we shall miss him most. His open-mindedness towards other cultures stems from his approach to individuals. He always sees the best in other people, never has a bad word, rarely even a cross one, to say about anyone and is always immensely grateful for the slightest thing done for him, when so often it is others who have cause to be grateful to him for his immeasurable kindness. Allied to all this is his great sense of loyalty both to his colleagues and friends and also, without ever wearing his heart on his sleeve, to the School. His greatest loyalty, however, has always been to his wife Joan and to his three children Kate, Sarah and John. He will, of course, have more time to be with them now but, in wishing him all the very best for a long and happy retirement, we hope that he will not neglect his ‘other family’ here at CLS and that he will come back and see us very often.
Thursday 18 March at 12 noon.
Roy's family would welcome donations in Roy's memory to Rare Dementia by way of a just giving page