Mrs Landshoff'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 Mrs Rebecca Landshoff, Head of Technology in our Senior School and Sixth Form.
When did you start at St Mary’s?
I started teaching at St Mary's in September 2016 although I officially started as a pupil here at the beginning of the Junior School many years ago when it was in Brookside, and only left after my A Levels in the Upper Sixth.
What did you do before you joined? (i.e. how long have you been in teaching/short bio etc)
Before becoming Head of Technology at St Mary's I was Head of Food and Nutrition at my previous school, and before that I worked in the catering industry with stints as a chef but mainly as a restaurant manager, followed by moving to the wine industry for nine years as a wholesale manager for a local company as well as a wine educator, which is how I discovered my love of teaching.
Were you always interested in cooking and nutrition? What fuelled that interest and why that subject and area?
I have always been interested in food, I come from a family who are very 'foodie' and who have always been adventurous. My mother always experimented with different flavours, cooking techniques and recipes from around the world. I cooked a lot as a child and just haven't stopped. When I was young I even used to create my own cooking programmes at home when I was baking and alone in the kitchen, trying to turn myself into the next Delia Smith which I believe put me in good stead for the demonstrations I do at school!
What have been your highlights of working at St Mary’s?
The absolute best thing for me so far has been seeing the love for the subject grow and grow, with so many students keen to continue with it into GCSE and beyond. However, I have also loved introducing the Leiths Introductory Certificate in the Sixth Form which is a course that really concentrates on flavour, skills and a love for good food and well sourced ingredients.
Why do you enjoy teaching?
It is easy to love teaching Food and Nutrition as a subject, it is a fantastic way to get students up and out of their seats, working independently or as a team, giving everyone a chance to shine no matter where their academic talents lie.
In your opinion what are the benefits of teaching in an all-girls environment?
Having taught in co-educational schools and now an all-girls' school I realise that freedom is the main difference in the classroom. It is always going to be a generalisation but I do feel that girls without boys have the freedom to be themselves, they may not feel suppressed by so many dominant characters (of course there are still strong personalities amongst a group of girls) and are not thinking so much about how they look or behave or if they say the wrong thing, meaning that they can participate more easily and freely.
What do you like to do in your free time when you are not teaching?
More cooking! Seriously though, I do love to have the time over a weekend or in the holidays to try new recipes, those that take more time to prepare or special ingredients, particularly when we are all together as a family. I love travel, reading and also enjoy exercise, I run with our dog every day and at the weekends and holidays we have more time, it is lighter and we can go much further.
What advice do you have for all the students you have taught – past and present – to help them on their journey in life?
I changed my degree and the university at which I was studying after my first year to focus on my real passion, I have never regretted it for a single second and it led me to where I am now.
So my advice would be to never be afraid to change your mind, be brave and have the confidence to change what you are doing or the path you are taking, it is your life and you need to own your decisions.