Scientist Stephen Hawking has paid tribute to the teacher who inspired his early steps into scholarship.
He says Dikran Tahta at St Albans School opened his eyes to maths, which he describes as the “blueprint of the universe”.
“My handwriting was bad, and I could be lazy. Many teachers were boring. Not Mr Tahta,” said the physicist.
Prof Hawking was speaking ahead of this weekend’s award of the Global Teacher Prize.
The award-winning scientist has recorded a video commending his teacher, who died in 2006.
“His classes were lively and exciting. Everything could be debated. Together we built my first computer, it was made with electro-mechanical switches,” said Prof Hawking.
“Thanks to Mr Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton.”
Prof Hawking said that “behind every exceptional person, there is an exceptional teacher”.
His video message comes ahead of the announcement of the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, with a prize of $1m (£704,000).
The competition, run by the Varkey Foundation, has one UK entrant in the final top 10.
Colin Hegarty, a maths teacher from London, has reached the final shortlist alongside teachers from countries including Kenya, Pakistan and the US.