More than a teacher, a real friend
Known to generations of students as ‘Miss Human’, Rita Hiscox was an early appointee to the City of Coventry Training College in 1949. She was born in Battersea and moved to Derbyshire around 1920. Having completed her education at Chesterfield Girls’ High School she obtained her first position as a governess in Ashover. During World War II she trained to be a teacher, gaining a diploma at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She then spent six years teaching English at Maidstone Grammar School.
Moving into teacher training, Rita lectured in English and Drama before retiring in 1980. She was a much loved lecturer and personal tutor, being strict - expecting work to be done correctly and on time. Her pastoral domains were ‘H’ block, then Dunsmere and all who passed there on their way to and from the central buildings always received a cheery greeting as Rita took her dogs on their daily exercise. As a school practice supervisor she was always interested and most importantly, supportive. Rita also chaired the Staff/Student Committee, listening intently to student requests before sometimes announcing a surprising decision.
The Committee of the Former Students’ Association could not have wished for a more involved staff representative. Rita attended all their events continuing to do so after her retirement until her health began to cause concern.
In 1998, aged almost 82 Rita decided to marry for the first time. Sadly her husband, Gaius, a retired and decorated wartime Royal Navy pilot, died only three years later. Rita continued to live in her beautiful home in Leamington until 2009 before moving to St. Leonard’s-on-Sea to be nearer her nephew and nieces.
The following tribute written by Beryl Saunders, a former colleague, encapsulates so well Rita’s impact on others:
Rita’s natural rapport with young adults and her ability to engage their confidences, allied to her wide interest in the Arts generally and drama and theatre in particular, ensured her popularity as a tutor and mentor, amply demonstrated by the number of former students who still visited and wrote to her long after her retirement.
Many will remember plays and festivals in which she was involved as advisor, organizer or director but she was also happy to perform in staff/student productions as she did memorably as Hesione in Shaw’s Heartbreak House and Margaret in Christopher Fry’s The Lady’s not for Burning.
As a member of a large team of tutors in the drama department Rita contributed specialist interest in Restoration drama, the works of Shaw and in later years, Pinter. Her love of theatre was wider than the literary or academic; it embraced both music and dance as exemplified by a collaborative resentation by sta and students from the wider arts of a ‘jazz cantata’ in Coventry Cathedral.
A prominent member of Leamington’s literary and musical circles, Rita will be remembered as unfailingly gracious and charming - and with dachshunds at heel.