From Part-time History Teacher to Full-time Youth Mentor and Workshop Leader
UPDATE ON WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: As I transition into a new chapter in my career, I want to take a moment to thank my colleagues at the St Catherines British School (Athens, Greece) for the support, and for the memorable moments I’ve had the honour of sharing with you over these past 8 years. This is the virtual adaptation of what in pre-COVID days (when mass gatherings were still a thing!) we called “Farewell Speeches”. Given that we’re living in an era of social distancing, I’m sharing my speech via this online, written form. Enjoy!
BEFORE I GO, I want to acknowledge my fellow colleagues at the St catherines british school
Mr Smith and Dr Bond
Thank you for trusting me to get on with my job to the best of my ability. It’s not uncommon in schools for school leaders to try to micromanage their teachers by being directive in telling them exactly how and what to teach (and in so doing, clip their wings and stunt their professional development). I believe that the fundamental reason I was able to flourish and develop so much in my teaching skills in St Catherines is because you do such a great job of communicating to parents that we are a highly qualified group of staff who are experts in our field, which makes us (as teachers) feel acknowledged and trusted. Thank you for that.
Kevin, as my line manager, I’m grateful that you were so encouraging when I was preparing to share my work on wellbeing education at the 7th ENSEC Wellbeing Education Conference in Budapest back, in August 2019, as well as my presentation for the IB World Schools Conference in Abu Dhabi, back in October 2019. It means a lot.
Hello my friend! I want to say how much I have enjoyed all the laughs and light-hearted banter during break and lunch times!! Whenever I had a few minutes break, it was wonderful to know you that your bright soul was always there in the print room for a bit of fun and banter whenever I popped by to say hello! I will miss seeing you during the working day, but I know that we will continue to have more fun after work times ahead (with pizza and prosecco at our favourite place in the ‘gitonia’😉).
Matt, it what a joy whenever we put our heads together to co-create some of the Year 8 and 9 History curriculum and assessment systems. I feel sad that we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to do more team planning, but I’m excited that we’ll continue to collaborate and co-create in the near future. You’re a school leader who not only gets results, but who also works with heart, and I’d love for your inspiring work to be shared with the world on my blog. I’m looking forward to sharing with my newsletter community of parents, students and educators the impactful work you’ve beedin going as Head of Year 7 and as a Year 7 History teacher. Thanks to the effective foundational work you’d do each year with Year 7 to help them transition into secondary school, we were able to cover way more topics and expand the history curriculum by the time they came to me in Year 8. An eye-opening experience. Teamwork makes the dream work. Thank you.
Deborah, I appreciate your big-hearted, inclusive school community vision that’s led to the ‘birthing’ of this incredible platform for the St Catherines community to enjoy. The recent launch of the brand new St Cats Alumni community is a great way of helping the highly qualified and talented alumni learn about interesting job opportunities and supportive resources that can help them feel connected back to their country, and their former school community.
The ‘brain drain’ of educated and productive Greeks who leave Greece because of the limited opportunities here is a real problem, in terms of the personal impact on the ambitious Greeks who feel they have to emigrate to find work opportunities that would do them justice with with regards to their their qualifications and the value they bring to the work place. We all know Greeks who feel bitter about feeling Greece ‘kicked them out’ because of the problematic working conditions.
It’s wonderful to see that you’ve created a platform that can give our excellent alumni hope that they may, one day, be able to return back to their motherland, without feeling they have to sacrifice their career ambitions in order to do so. And let’s not even get started on the benefits to the Greek economy and businesses that a repatriation of such talent would bring. A win-win situation for all. Bravo, Deborah, for being such a great connector!
James, I want to thank you for being such a compassionate, inspiring Head of Key Stage. Witnessing your skills in de-escalating tension in times of stress, and in holding students accountable when they go off track and need to learn how to course correct, and the collaborative way in which you run your meetings, taught me a lot about what emotionally intelligent leadership can look like. St Catherines is lucky to have you!
Mrs Stavrinaki, Mr Vorlow, Mrs Roberts, and Mr York-Ryder
Thank you for the many stimulating, interesting professional discussions about we’ve had during break times about meaningful, real-world educational issues. I thoroughly enjoyed our exchange of ideas. And I’m particularly grateful to Evangelia Stavrinaki, who is also the co-creator of the popular IB Genius revision website for IB Diploma students, for the coaching session I had with her that helped launch my new website. I appreciate your down-to-earth, grounded energy and life philosophy.
Teacher colleagues in other departments
To the teaching staff in other departments who I had the pleasure of meeting via training days or other school community events: After this incredibly difficult past few months (which only people who have actually experienced the challenge and the increased workload from the inside of the of a school system can truly comprehend) I wish you a happy, carefree summer holiday.
People who’ve never taught in a school have no idea how much works and energy it takes to do the job of a teacher, in a typical school year (as they say, when you’re good at what you do, you make it LOOK like what you do is easy…Just because Nadal and Tsitsipas fly across the tennis court with grace and ease, doesn’t mean the back end work in the lead up to these performances was one of ease!). While we stepped up to the challenge of online teaching and the new measures in a way that may have appeared, from the outside, to have been done with ease…we all know exactly how much more extra work we’ve had to put in to the typical working day, in order to continue to provide an excellent education for our students.
Have a lovely summer, and I wish you all the best in your exciting transition to the new building!
To the school admin staff: A huge thank you for your grace and patience whenever I needed clarification on room changes/arrangements, paperwork assistance, and IT assistance (Sokrati and team – you’re the best! Thank you for your patience of saints with all my ICT support requests).
To the incredibly hard working team of cleaners who’ve exhausted themselves working to keep up with the additional COVID19 cleaning measures this term: I hope that you can enjoy a much-needed rest this summer. I do hope that the new building will be a nice new beginning in your daily cleaning workload, in the new school year.
To all the other support staff who look after our safety and stomachs, Despina and team: I will miss your warm smiles and service of love in the school canteen. To Haris and the “Welcoming Committee” (Haris, you know what I’m talking about!): thank you for your calm, cheerful energy that made the start of the working day such an uplifting experience.