Matt Williams

When I first worked at Golden Gate, many kilos ago, the school was starting its fifteenth year. Now it is starting its thirtieth. What a fantastic achievement. It feels good that when the world seems like it’s going crazy we still have this family-run school where we can go to learn and laugh and leave our stresses on the stairs.

Six or seven years ago, when I was back in Britain chasing bad guys, I wrote an article for the school website called The Golden Gate Effect. It’s still there somewhere. In there I described the positive impact the school has had on so many teachers and students and how it goes beyond the English language. I believed it then and still do today. It’s why I came back. A couple of years back, when I had a few different career options, I chose to return to Golden Gate because I enjoy it and truly believe we make a difference. We respect the students and care about their improvement. What more can I say? If I didn’t want to be here I’d be somewhere else. Life’s too short.

So I don’t want to repeat what I already wrote in ‘The Golden Gate Effect’, but I do want to take this opportunity to give a heartfelt thanks to the staff and students at Golden Gate for their support and understanding during an incredibly challenging year. As some may know, in January 2020 my son Franek was born very early in Katowice. He has been in and out of hospital ever since with incredibly serious health problems. As I write this he is back in intensive care in Ligota Children’s Hospital. It has been the hardest period of my family’s life and we have had a lot of love, prayers and positivity from the Golden Gate community that have meant the world to us.

With the added complication of the co****irus meaning I couldn’t even see my baby son for over three months, lessons helped me take my mind off whatever troubles I had that particular day. They were bright spots in dark times. The students helped make them probably the most enjoyable and effective lessons I’ve ever done. Sometimes I remember starting those online classes with ‘I’ve had some bad news today so you’ve all got to make me laugh.’ The students never let me down and we laughed and got better together. During this period my colleagues and the Drewniaks were a tremendous help and I am forever grateful. I think we can all agree 2020 didn’t go how we thought it would, especially for the Williams family, but we’ve got this far and I’m sure we can still go further together.

Recently I had to go into the school to pick something up and I had my four year old daughter Zosia with me. We were the only ones there and as we were leaving I had to lock that rolling gate thing at the entrance.

Zosia pointed above the gate and said ‘But Daddy, thieves could come with a ladder and climb over the top.’ ‘But what could they steal?’ I asked. What’s worth anything? A couple of computers, a few TVs? Good luck moving the massive photocopier, thieves. They couldn’t steal the atmosphere, energy or spirit of Golden Gate. That’s where the real value is.