‘Inspiration to us all’: Mass of tributes after death of ‘charismatic’ teacher

PUBLISHED: 14:38 09 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:38 09 March 2020

Tributes have been paid after the death of Dinorah Souto, head of Spanish at Copleston High School in Ipswich. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL

Tributes have been paid after the death of Dinorah Souto, head of Spanish at Copleston High School in Ipswich. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL


Heartbroken friends, relatives and students have led an outpouring of heartfelt tributes to an “exceptional” long-serving Ipswich teacher who has died.

Copleston High School principal Andy Green said both staff and students were in shock after the death of head of Spanish Dinorah Souto.

Described as a "dear friend, colleague and charismatic lady who was well-liked and respected across our community", Ms Souto had taught at the school for more than a decade and became renowned for her hard work and "larger than life character".

Mr Green said she was an "exceptional teacher who touched the lives of so many students" and would leave a "huge void" at the school.

Her family said in a statement that she had "taught tirelessly" throughout her career and, having emigrated to the UK from Uruguay, had been relentless in disproving stereotypes about immigration.

'Remarkable job'

Ms Souto was born in Uruguay and started to give private English lessons in her home country from the age of 17.

"She later went onto teach professionally in Spain and finally the UK, where she taught tirelessly for the rest of her life," her family said.

Becoming head of Spanish at Copleston in September 2008, Mr Green said she showed an "unrelenting devotion and passion for her profession", often marking students' work and preparing lessons well into the early hours.

Her family said: "As an immigrant, she always felt a burden to disprove the stereotypes all too often portrayed in a negative light by the media and perhaps there can be more room going forward to celebrate, promote and be more inclusive of those who come to this country and do a remarkable job."

'Truly an inspiration to us all'

Mr Green said Ms Souto had an "impeccable record" and added: "Her disciplined work ethic never allowed for anything to interfere between her and her students - who she loved teaching so much.

"She brought energy, enthusiasm and a real passion for her subject in every lesson she taught.

"She was an exceptional teacher who touched the lives of so many Copleston students both past and present, and her passing will leave a huge void for us all.

"We miss her laughter, her optimism and total dedication to the teaching profession.

"We will remember her optimism, which encouraged so many students and staff to be the best they could be. She truly was an inspiration to us all.

"Everybody associated with Copleston High School, both past and present is proud to have known Dinorah, and we hold her and her family in our thoughts at this sad time."

'Difficult time'

Mr Green said that breaking the news to staff and students during a series of staff meetings and assemblies last week "was one of the saddest day I think I've ever known in my career".

He added: "It has hit everyone incredibly hard. We are all shocked and upset by it. It is a very difficult time for the school community."

However Mr Green praised all of the school's 1,800 students for the sensitive and respectful way in which they have responded to the news.

"She was massively well-regarded," he added.

"She was vibrant and vivacious and among the best languages teachers I've ever worked with. She was absolutely brilliant.

"She was incredibly well-respected. She had a fantastic grasp of her subject and was inventive and creative in how she taught. She had all the hallmarks of a great teacher.

"She was the sort of teacher you would definitely want to have at your school. You could hear a pin drop in her classroom - the students were hanging on her every word.

"She filled a room with her positivity and fun-loving character when she walked into it. She was an inspiring, larger than life character."

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