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Miss Powell's #teachereffect at St Mary's

Miss Powell's #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 Louise Powell, who is our new Director of Sport.

When did you start at St Mary’s?

I started working at St Mary’s in September 2016, as a Newly Qualified Teacher and am now in my fifth year of teaching.

What did you do before you joined?

I did many things before joining St Mary’s and I am sure you will not be surprised that most involved sport! Working at St Mary’s was my first full-time teaching job after qualifying as a teacher, but before that I did a lot of gymnastics and netball coaching. I started doing gymnastics when I was 3 years old and participated in many training sessions and competitions until I was about 14. Alongside this, I started playing netball. I was quite late to the netball game and only started playing when I was in Year 7 at school. My inspirational PE teacher suggested that I started playing at a club, and I have not looked back since. That is a moment I will never forget, as it put me on a path where I have had so many opportunities to play with amazing players and be coached by some of the country’s best. I attended England U17 trials when I was in Year 11 at school, and from there played in National and Regional club teams. Whilst playing, I also started coaching netball and have coached club and county netball in Bedfordshire. My coaching jobs were part time whilst I was studying at the University of Bedfordshire for my degree. I graduated from my Sports and Physical Education degree in 2015, and immediately afterwards begun my PGCE to become a PE teacher.

Were you always interested in teaching PE? What fuelled that interest and why that subject and area?

Yes, I have always been interested in teaching PE. I have never had a doubt that teaching is want I wanted to do. When I was at school, I had a very inspirational PE teacher, who I looked up to and was a role model for me. I always loved PE lessons, and wanted to be the person who could inspire others to participate and improve in sports. My Dad was very interested in sports too, so I grew up watching and doing sport with him at the weekend and after school. Alongside my PE teacher, my Dad was a big influence in showing me how fun and enjoyable sport was. Without the support of my parents, I would never have achieved all that I have in sports. They are the people in our lives who support us to achieve our goals and dreams, and mine were no exception.

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

I have had so many highlights working at St Mary’s. A few memorable things include the sports days, sports awards, and school matches that I get to take the girls to. It is such a privilege to be able to support the girls in their sporting pursuits, watching them play other schools in fixtures and tournaments. As someone who loves gymnastics, I always look forward to the gymnastics display, watching the amazing routines that the girls produce. They always work so hard to rehearse and the outcomes make me so proud of the effort and practice they put into it. I also feel so lucky that I get to work with such as supportive department and wider community of staff at the school.

Why do you enjoy teaching?

One of the main reasons why I enjoy teaching is that it is an incredibly rewarding job. I love the interactions that I have with my pupils and colleagues and learn a lot from them myself. I love seeing my pupils make improvements and learn new skills for the first time and want to encourage them to not be afraid of challenges or failure.

In your opinion what are the benefits of teaching Sport in an all-girls environment?

I can honestly say that I have never met a more encouraging, supportive, and motivated group of girls until I started working at St Mary’s! This is really highlighted in sports, where they need to work together as a team, support each other and work hard individually. The all-girls environment gives the girls the confidence in sports to try new things, knowing they are in groups where everyone is encouraging each other to do their best and enjoy being physically active. There is a sense of no body being judged for their sporting abilities in lessons and clubs and I am really proud of how this is achieved, from the girls being so supportive and encouraging to each other.

What do you like to do in your free time when you are not teaching?

It will not come as a surprise that playing sport and keeping fit is something that I like to do in my free time. Like many others, I have used my time during these lockdowns to start running again, and hope to start playing netball in the future once things can return to more normality. I love spending time with my family and enjoying curling up on the sofa reading a good book or watching a film (obviously nothing beats Disney!). Like many others, not being able to see my family face-to-face has meant we have done a lot of Zoom calls and quizzes. I have even been doing Zoom workouts with friends from across the world.

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

Do not be afraid to try new things and do not worry if something goes wrong or you feel like you have failed. If things do not work out the first time, keep perservering and working hard, taking every opportunity you can to help you achieve your goals.

Find out more about Miss Powell's ambitions for sport at St Mary's

Find out more about sport at St Mary's.