After a slow start we managed to drag Mr Toman away from the maths, long enough to interview him, along with Mr Lemmon…
How are you finding AGGS?
Mr Toman: Yeah, I’m really enjoying it! Its a really good school, I really enjoy meeting all the teachers and its an inspiration how motivated all the young girls are
Mr Lemmon: I have to add also that compared to a typical comprehensive school, obviously it’s very different being a grammar school, but also there is more passion with the pupils about their education and about the school in general.
Mr Toman: It definitely seems a school where you would be proud to be a student.
Mr Lemmon: Yeah! Last month the school league tables were released and AGGS was second in the country….and that’s all because of Mr Toman and I!
Why did you want to teach maths?
Mr Lemmon: Well, I wanted to teach because whilst I was at school, particularly the GCSE age range, I wasn’t the best, at all – you may find it hard to believe! I wasn’t particularly academic, I played football during lunchtime and used to be very, very late to lessons then sort of swung on my chair at the back. Obviously that has changed. Going into Year 11, after some disappointing results in Year 10 made me realise that I needed to pay attention. It was when I started to pay attention that I realised the effort teachers did and the support they would offer. So it was a sense of gratitude that I wanted to be able to relay and that was my incentive to go into teaching. To go into maths in particular, I really liked my GCSE maths teacher and just wanted to be him! That’s not one of the reasons why I’m here now but it is one of the reasons why I took such a keen interest in maths.
Mr Toman: Well I was thinking should I take physics or should I take maths and for me it was the way Maths underpins everything, absolutely everything and is the language of the universe. Once you start moving away from maths it becomes more subjective whereas mathematics is almost like its the one true fact that you have.
Mr Lemmon: Yeah I had the debate between physics and maths too, but as I did a degree in mathematics, maths was my specialism.
If you could teach another subject what would it be?
Mr Lemmon: Physics 100%. Although outside of that it would be computing I think.
Mr Toman: Yeah, I like politics, economics, loads of things I think I would love to teach.
Mr Lemmon: Jack of all trades!
What was your least favourite subject in school?
Mr Toman: Well at school it was probably languages, but I couldn’t understand why anyone would ever need to speak anything but English and that was because I had never really left the country- apart from going on holidays to places where everyone speaks English. But when I started going on holidays to places where they do speak a lot of different languages and I realised the value of languges and I love learning languages.
Mr Lemmon: My least favourite subject…I would say drama- not because I disliked the subject but the lessons. I was quite a shy boy in school, particularly in the first few years in school so I really didn’t like the idea of performing in front of people I wasn’t confident with and I used to get quite anxious about it. It was a dislike for the lessons, not the subject.
Have you made any new friends?
Mr Toman: Mr Lemmon is my new friend!
Mr Lemmon: We never really knew each other before.
Mr Toman: And the other teachers, such as Mrs Malkin, Miss Williams and the other teachers in the maths department.
Mr Lemmon: Yeah, the whole department. Outside of the department though- Miss Mayal is very friendly.
Mr Toman: Miss Bowyer too, I’ve been helping her do some model UN stuff so thats been really good.
Mr Lemmon: And Mr Hodgson, I know he’s maths but he’s also lovely.
Would you consider coming back?
Mr Toman: Yeah definitely- as long as you guys have us back!
Mr Lemmon: As we said in the beginning, its such a beautiful school, such a beautiful environment and its not just the teachers but the students who are proud and lovely -so yes!
What hobbies do you have?
Mr Toman: I do loads of stuff! On holiday I love to surf and go skiing and scoober-diving- anything involved water I suppose, frozen or not.
Mr Lemmon: Like showering!
Mr Toman: And over here I like martial arts though I haven’t done that since coming to Manchester.
Mr Lemmon: Hm, it sounds really sad but my external enjoyments would just be reading, autobiographies of sports related people or physics related books! So yeah, reading but not necessarily fictional stuff, mainly scientific or non-fiction stuff. I also like playing tennis… but thats only in the summer, then it gets cold. I’m currently reading Barack Obama- though I’m only reading it so I can have conversations with Mr Toman and his politics!
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
Mr Toman: Well I’m fluent in Spanish! When I was at university I had been living away for a little bit of time and I decided I wanted to learn a language. Even though I was doing engineering I had an opportunity to learn Spanish with a third year in university in Spain- an Erasmus year. So I spent a year of my university course studying engineering and I learnt Spanish whilst I was there! It was really really good and I’d recommend anyone to try a year abroad.
Mr Lemmon: My interesting fact….
Mr Toman: You’re pretty good at driving!
Mr Lemmon: Ok yeah, whilst I was an undergraduate I worked at Waitrose supermarket as a delivery driver and groceries. So my claim to fame is that for three consecutive periods of six months so an 18 month period, I was the best driver in the East of England.
Mr Toman: I’ve been in a car with him and you feel very safe!
Mr Lemmon: So yeah, that was out of another 600 drivers.
What ALevels did you do?
Mr Lemmon: Maths, physics, computing and sociology. Going into year 13 I had intended on dropping Physics but one I saw my results I changed my mind and dropped sociology! I also picked up further maths (AS level) in year 13.
Mr Toman: I wish I had done further maths. I did biology, chemistry maths and physics but I remember when I got to university to do engineering that the guys in my class who had done further maths, were much quicker.
Mr Lemmon: I noticed that, particularly in the first semester of university, those that had done further maths just walked through those first 12 weeks and there’s me like what’s a matrice!?
Mr Toman: Oh, we did those in A-Level
Mr Lemmon: Yeah, well you’re old school!
Do you have any final words of advice for AGGS pupils?
Mr Lemmon: Well I’d say don’t ever take for granted the opportunities that you’re offered here and that are available to you because like we said, you’re in the second best school in the country and that speaks volumes, but don’t just rest on that- use it, use the teachers, use the revision sessions and all the help that you’re offered and get that grade- not that the grade is everything, because it’s really not, that’s not the idea of school…but it’s nice to get a good grade isn’t it!
Mr Toman: My advice would be similar. Whatever is in your heart, I think you should do it. Whatever you want to do, you have the opportunity to do and the brains to do, you just have to work for it!
Mr Lemmon: The best advice that I got given was when I was thinking about my A-Levels. I wasn’t sure what to do and my maths teacher said, pick something you know you will enjoy. I didn’t know for certain what I wanted to do, so picking what I enjoyed was where the maths side started to develop. Do what you enjoy and as Mr Toman said, follow your heart!
Thanks to the maths trainees for their time and we wish them the best for the future!