one plus one equals two

When John started going out with Jo she was still at school. He was her maths teacher. Six years later they are still happily together, and ready to talk to Suzy Barber about teacher/pupil relationships
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Indy Lifestyle Online
JO'S STORY

"john was always one of the more popular teachers at school, because he was young - 28 - and approachable. I thought he was cute but I didn't fancy him. He was just Mr Dunn, another member of staff.

He'd been my maths teacher for a year when I bumped into him at a pub. I had a part-time job as a waitress at a nearby restaurant and I went in there for a drink with Zoe, a girl I worked with. I'd never seen a teacher out of school before so I was surprised to see him there. He was more surprised to see me because this was his local. He was with another teacher, Mr Bradley - or Dave as I call him now - and I said 'Hello' as I walked past.

I was standing at the bar when John came over. I thought he was going to tell me off for under-age drinking, but he was real friendly. I didn't think he was coming on to me, I was just surprised a teacher could be so nice.

I was alone in the school library when I saw him again, a week later. We chatted about everything except that meeting. Then as he left he said: 'See you later.' I took that to mean, see you later in the pub, so I went back that night with Zoe. I wasn't thinking, 'Fwoargh I'm going to get him.' I just wanted to see him again because he was such a nice person.

By 9.30pm he still hadn't shown up; I'd started to feel as if I'd misinterpreted the whole thing when he walked in. He looked surprised to see me and was a bit edgy, but we had a nice chat.

By the end of the evening I knew I really liked him and told my best friend Maria about it. She thought it was hilarious and came to the pub with me and Zoe the following week. Unbeknown to me, Maria told John to make a play for me. I'm sure if she hadn't said that he wouldn't have done, but he did. As we crossed the car park he grabbed me and kissed me. All I remember thinking was, 'Oh my God. I'm snogging my teacher!' Afterwards he gave me his number, which I wrote down on my French vocab book.

Afterwards, Maria, Zoe and I were hysterical with laughter, like typical school- girls, really. The next time I saw John at school I couldn't look at him in case I giggled.

We met again, and it was then that he started to feel more like an equal than a teacher. I found it hard calling him John instead of Mr Dunn, but by the end of the evening I was mad about him.

I told my parents, and they accepted him. They even said that if the school found out they would stand by us, which meant an awful lot. John and I began seeing each other about three times a week, but I didn't sleep with him for two months because I was worried about the consequences. It would have been devastating seeing each other at school if we'd just had a one-night stand.

We got used to this relationship where he was Mr Dunn and then this exciting, highly charged life where he was John. Sometimes it was frustrating; here was this man I was in love with but couldn't tell anyone about. Whenever he came to pick me up I'd have to keep my head on my knees in the car, and we couldn't go into town for fear of being spotted.

John and I have been together for six years now and plan to marry in 1997. As much as I love him, it has been hard. One of the most difficult things was sitting my A-levels, because John was invigilating one of my exams. I was trying to concentrate and there was this man who I'd been with the night before. Every time he walked past I'd put my hand over my paper so he couldn't see what I'd written in case it was wrong. I got an A in the end, and my sister put in my congratulations card: 'Now we know you were revising when you went round to John's!' The truth is, a lot of the time I was."

JOHN'S STORY

"i didn't think of Jo as being any different from any of the other girls I taught. She was always very bubbly and a popular member of her class, but I didn't fancy her. As a teacher you try not to fancy your students.

When I saw her in the pub I went up to talk to her because I felt it would have been more awkward if I didn't. The pub is miles away from the school so I was surprised to see a student in there. After the first evening we spent chatting, I realised what a lovely person she was. It wasn't as if I ever had a problem going out with women. I'd been single for three months when I met Jo in the pub and wasn't looking for another relationship, but by the third time I met her I realised how strong my feelings were. I was sure she felt the same way and I knew it was up to me to take it further, so I kissed her. It was instinctive more than calculating. I probably wouldn't have done it if I had been feeling more rational, but I fancied her so much I had to do something.

By that stage I'd already thought of the consequences. I knew people would accuse me of taking advantage, but there are times when you have to make your own moral judgements. Jo was 18 by then and the fact we'd met in the pub instead of the school didn't make the crime so heinous. I was more worried about losing my job than the moral aspect, but my attraction to Jo was so great I thought it was worth the risk.

After we'd been out on our own for the first time, Jo introduced me to her parents. I was nervous about meeting them, especially as I had shaken hands with them at PTA evenings, but they accepted me straight away. They were great.

My parents don't know how we met. My Mum died soon after I introduced her to Jo and I never got the chance to tell her. I haven't told my Dad because I'm too embarrassed. As far as he knows we met in the pub.

When we were at school I treated Jo like any other student. I didn't have to tell her to be discreet; she already appreciated the situation.

There's been a bit of banter in the staff room from some of the male members of staff about some of the students. There are a lot of beautiful girls in the sixth form and you know when one of them fancies you, because she gives you that extra bit of attention. Sometimes it's nice and sometimes you want them to leave you alone. It certainly doesn't do your ego any harm. Though nothing was ever said about Jo, I think some of the other teachers had their suspicions. But there was nothing they could say because we weren't behaving any differently.

On the whole we quickly adapted to leading two separate lives, though I usually had to compose myself for a couple of minutes before I went into her classroom.

I felt uncomfortable about Jo meeting my friends because most of them are teachers too, but that was something I had to deal with. Dave was great, but I lived with him and he knew how much Jo meant to me.

When Jo went to university it crossed my mind that she might meet someone younger, but the age difference was never an issue. Anyway, by then we were already sure about our feelings. When Jo moved in with me after only eight months it seemed the most natural thing in the world.

As much as I love Jo, I don't think I could go through it again. The worry that I might lose my job was too much. I've since left that school and got another teaching job somewhere else, but I'm still careful. If people ask how I met Jo I tell them it was in the pub.

As far as I'm concerned, it's just one of those things.''

8 All names in this article have been changed

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