Each term we ask members of staff a few light-hearted questions about themselves so that friends of St Mary's School, Cambridge can get to know our team a bit better. Enjoy reading about our members of staff by clicking on each link below.
Assistant Head: Director of Studies and Academic Registrar, in addition to being a Mathematics teacher
What was your favourite subject at school? Unsurprisingly it was Mathematics. I always had to work hard at it, but I got great satisfaction from getting the correct answer. I would never let it ‘beat me’; I kept trying until I got the correct answer. Small trees have probably been lost at some point during my career due to the number of attempts made at answering mathematical problems!
Why did you decide to become a teacher? Originally I wanted to be a pilot. I applied for a course at college titled ‘Aeronautically Engineering’ – but the course was cancelled due to lack of funding so I decided instead to study A Level Mathematics, Physics and Geography, and then to take Mathematics at degree level. It was at the start of my third year of my degree when I was asked the question that everyone who doesn’t know what they want to do with their life dreads, ‘so what are you going to do now?’. I had no idea, but one of my friends at university said I was good at explaining Mathematics to him so I decided to complete an extra year to train to become a teacher. I have never looked back. I love it – it is absolutely the best job in the world.
Why did you decide to work at St Mary’s School, Cambridge? I had been working at Alleyn’s School, Dulwich for seven years – a great school and I could have happily stayed there, but I craved a new challenge, and then I saw the Head of Mathematics job at St Mary’s School, Cambridge advertised. I researched the school and loved everything that I read, and I knew that I would be really happy to work there, so I applied, and that was 11 years ago (time flies when you are having fun!). This school is unique – it brings out the best in everyone, students and teachers alike. We are a community and we all look after each other. There is always a smile from someone when you are having a bad day.
Favourite things – what’s your all-time favourite…
Book: It would have to be one that I read to my daughters when they were younger, Room on a broom by Julia Donaldson. The girls wanted me to read it night after night, by the end I could recite it without looking at the words.
Poem: A poem my best friend wrote about me for my 40th birthday – which captures ‘my essence’, my good points and my bad points. Come and find me if you'd like to read it. Jo has her own company named Bespoke Verse.
Film: Easy! Dirty Dancing – I used to watch this over and over and over and over again. It would finish, I would immediately press play and watch it all over again, day in day out. It drove my mum mad!
Joke: I’m not very good at jokes. I am one of those people you tell a joke to and I understand it about five minutes later, which is why I never go and see comedies at the cinema!
Who inspires you? My beautiful daughters, family and friends inspire me. My parents worked hard to give me and my sister a happy fulfilled childhood, and I am now trying to show my own daughters the value of working hard. We have a family motto ‘never give up!’ and I’m inspired by the hope of making my daughters and parents proud of my achievements. I always (try) to look on the bright side of life, I would hope that people think I am a happy person who generally has a smile on her face.
What sort of music is your favourite? I love music. I have a very varied collection ranging from listening to the likes of Bread to Luther Vandross, and Maroon 5 to Andrea Bocelli. My mood will dictate what I listen to. I am trying to give my daughters a ‘musication’ – an education in music, an essential life lesson!
What is your favourite holiday destination? When I was 18 my parents took me and my twin sister to visit parts of South America. We travelled around Brazil, Venezuela and Columbia, staying in the Brazilian rainforest. We saw the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls, boated along the Orinoco River, to name just a few of the highlights. It was a truly amazing holiday, but at the time I wanted to be on holiday with my friends so did not appreciate it as much as I should have! More recently I went to New York for six days with some of my best friends to celebrate our 40th birthdays – a whirlwind of museums, tourist attractions and shopping.
What’s your worst habit? Picking my nails, I am always been told off for doing this. The problem is, I am never aware that I am doing it in the first place so I find it impossible to stop myself doing it!
Did you know… I used to be a post woman. Every summer for four years I would return home from university and start my post round for two months. I had to be in work at 4.00am from Monday to Saturday. I was generally cycling about 20 miles a day, as there were two rounds a day in those days. I have to confess I saw some ‘sights’ while I was delivering the letters! My advice, check how you are dressed before answering the door!
Team Trivia – (without looking it up) what is the collective noun for rhino? I am rubbish at trivia, I was hoping for a maths question! Can I ask a friend? No? ... OK, I’ll go for herd. [Correct! Although we were looking for crash of rhino, herd is also correct!]