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.
Head of Geography, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Leader, EVC
What was your favourite subject at school? I loved school and I didn’t have a favourite subject as such. I particularly enjoyed English, Religious Studies, History, Latin, Biology and Chemistry. Oh, and yes, I did like Geography, and my Geography teachers were amazing. But then, I liked everything to do with school.
Why did you decide to become a teacher? I became a teacher by happy accident! I shared a house with friends who were all studying medicine and the only way I could squeeze a fourth year at Cambridge so I could still hang out with them was to do a PGCE. I fell in love with teaching and was amazed that I could be paid for having such fun.
What’s your favourite thing about working at St Mary’s School, Cambridge? The girls and staff at St Mary’s School, Cambridge are fantastic and I still get a thrill out of the buzz of a happy, productive classroom. Best of all are those moments of sudden insight, when a pupil says ‘Oh, now I get it!’. Quite a few of my former students are now Geography teachers, and of that I am very proud!
What are your all-time favourite poems or books? I am not totally sold on choosing favourites, as different things are appropriate for different times and places. However, the poem ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold is so melancholy, but I love it. 'Kubla Khan' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, another poem, always makes me smile because it is so wild and zany but geographical at the same time. I also really enjoy Norman Nicholson’s poetry; he must have been some kind of natural historian or geologist, and I frequently read Ted Hughes’ work. He is an amazing poet and ‘The Windhover’ and ‘The Day he Died’ send shivers down my spine. I am sure I have read Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books over and over but I also enjoy reading and re-reading the Bible, especially the Book of Isaiah, as I am convinced he was a Geographer at heart because he uses so many analogies based on landscape.
What or who inspires you to do well? My parents only ever wanted me to be happy and to do the best that I could. I wanted to do my best for them and for my Grandma, who, aged eleven, had passed the entrance exam to Wisbech Grammar School, but wasn’t able to attend because my great grand parents couldn’t afford the uniform. By the age of 12 my Gran was out to work, with no prospect of ever getting back into education, though she never stopped learning and asked me for a dictionary as her 80th birthday present!
What’s your favourite hobby? One of my hobbies is hillwalking. In the past I would have said mountaineering but my knees are not as springy as they used to be! I have climbed some pretty big mountains: Mont Blanc, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi! However hillwalking also means bird watching, enjoying and identifying wild flowers, finding out about local churches and looking at the rocks. There’s not any one thing I enjoy about the outdoor experience; the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts!
What sort of music is your favourite? My god daughters are fans of One Direction, and they sound fine, but I’m not hugely keen on pop music. I still listen to Phil Collins, Genesis and U2. I find plain chant very relaxing, and I enjoy choral works like Handel’s Messiah and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, as I have sung them in the past so I can usually hum along!
Where has your favourite holiday been to? My best holidays were those of my childhood. We went to Norfolk for a fortnight every year and we spent the whole time on the beach. We played cricket, football, badminton, beach volleyball and we swam and splashed about until it was almost dark! Although I have travelled a lot – well over 30 countries at the last count – nothing comes close to those holidays in north Norfolk!
What’s your worst habit? I am sure I have lots of bad habits! Not knowing when to call it a day and go home would be one, and eating far too much chocolate would be another of them.
Team Trivia - Can you work out 11 x 14 without a calculator? I think the answer is 154 (10x14 = 140 plus another 14 = 154) [correct answer from Miss Spore]