Steve 'Pop' Corner - WHS biology teacher from 1959 to 1976     

Chris Snuggs Berners/Halls 58-65: I had biology with Steve Corner for 5 years and eventually got a 2 at "O" Level, for which he must take a good part of the credit! He was not an overtly charismatic figure - and did not have a prominent profile around the school in general - but I always found his lessons well organized and interesting - which after all is the most important thing a teacher should ensure before any other fancy stuff. He was clear, patient and most of all kept us active both physically and mentally. It is true that he who is not enamoured of the subject is a sad individual indeed; how could the way we are made and function not be endlessly fascinating - but a poor teacher can make any subject boring, and biology was anything but that.

His lab was in the left wing of the main Berners building, and always full of various plants and other exhibits.

It is a long time ago, but I still remember his enthusiasm for and treatment of the nitrogen and carbon cycles; the fundamentals of the construction, working and function of both plant and human cells; the various tropisms; the growth of plants and the role of sunlight and so on. He was also very hot on SOIL: its complexity and importance in agriculture. I remember being very proud one day to have learned about the "bacillus radiciola". I had long forgotten since what it was but looked it up just now ! True, I never needed the word again in the 60 years since, but it was nonetheless a significant part of my learning - or it felt so at the time.

WHS boys in my experience were not unduly rowdy in class, unlike in some schools I later taught in, but I never remember Steve ever having to punish anyone for bad behaviour, or even raise his voice. Certainly, there was no throwing of chalk or boardrubbers in frustration at a yapping pupil! We were both too interested to misbehave and too respectful of a kindly gentleman, already advancing in years even in 1960.

I was sorry to have to give up biology after "O" Levels because I was better at languages. I missed his classes; I missed learning about the astonishing mystery of life. It has always seemed to me a pity that one had to specialize so early, though of course there are pros and cons. And we knew that in "A" Level biology one got to dissect rats and so on (or was it frogs?)- which was something we kind of looked forward to in a gruesome sort of way!

Steve was a long-standing teacher at WHS: one of those who helped give great continuity and stability to the staff. He was for me a fine teacher and much respected by one and all, and so that is a life well lived, I think. Can most of us hope for more, or even as much?

R.I.P. Steve

PS He was Housemaster and of course the namer of Corners House from 1951 to 1963, but I have no photos or information about his time there. Perhaps others can fill the gap?

WHS - Memories of Steve 'Pop' Corner