Miss Severis' #teachereffect at St Mary's

Miss Severis' #teachereffect at St Mary's

We want to spend this year celebrating some of our teaching staff who help make St Mary’s School, Cambridge such an inspiring place for girls to learn and flourish. We call it the #teachereffect.

Sadly, we can’t cover all our teaching staff; however, we will be showcasing several over this year in many diverse areas and from across the school, from our Junior School to our Sixth Form. We continue our series with Miss Olympia Severis.

Miss Severis is an English teacher at our Senior School. A passionate advocate for all things literary, Miss Severis also helps our Eco Council in their aims to make the school a more eco-friendly place.

When did you start at St Mary’s?

April 2018. I started in the boarding house first and then as an English teacher in September 2018. 


What did you do before you joined?

I taught in a Swiss boarding school in the Alps after university in Cambridge and St Andrews. 


Were you always interested in English and the environment? What fuelled that interest and why that subject and area?

I have always loved reading and I think that English is a subject which allows you to explore the totality of human existence. The subject forces us to ask questions about life, our purpose, beauty … the list is endless. 

I have only become interested in the environment since starting at St Mary's. The enthusiasm and passion of the girls of all ages has educated and humbled me to the effects that we are having on the environment. I also feel that as a teacher we are educating the youth but I feel increasingly unsure about the kind of world we are giving them. In light of this, I am trying to make sustainable changes in my life and then helping the girls to find their voice and organise their actions.


What have been your highlights of working at St Mary’s?

The highlight of working at St Mary's has undoubtedly been my department. The department office is such a kind, supportive and funny place!

I love the small moments when a girls responds to a text in such a way that it makes me rethink my perception of it. Surprisingly, as I wasn't expecting this when I first started here, I admire our Catholic ethos and the way in which our ethos grounds us in all that we do. It gives you a sense of educational purpose (in the wider sense) when things can get overwhelming. 


Why do you enjoy teaching? 

My main aim in teaching is to create lifelong readers for pleasure. Reading is undoubtedly my greatest pleasure and solace. I hope that each girl will leave St Mary's with an appreciation of great literature and a greater understanding of what is it to be human through her reading. The best part about teaching English is the dialogue and discussions built around the texts which are reframed according to each class. It makes the texts and lessons endlessly fascinating. 


In your opinion what are the benefits of teaching English and environmental issues in an all-girls environment?

This is my first all-girls school so I only have a St Mary's perspective but I think we promote a healthy vision of becoming a holistic person. We give the girls unlimited opportunities to find their strengths, talents and passions by focusing on creating well-rounded young women. In an all-girls environment I think we are very attuned to the joys and challenges of being a teenager and we offer excellent pastoral support which is suited perfectly to their needs. 


What do you like to do in your free time when you are not focusing on the environment?

I love to read (obviously!) and walking my gorgeous mini Schnauzer - Tess!


What advice do you have for all the students you have taught – past and present – to help them on their journey in life!

Keep reading, keep thinking, keep questioning!