team_emmaDirector, Teacher, Drama and Performing Arts Specialist K-6

What is your background?

I am from the UK – I was born in South Wales, raised in Orkney and educated in Aberdeen. My dad worked in the oil industry so we moved with his work. My mum is also a teacher and I remember going to school with her when I was a toddler. After graduating from university, I worked in drama and theatre companies and for performance festivals, as well as in schools. I met my Australian husband Brian at the Aberdeen Youth Festival in 1998 and made the decision to join him and his family in the Northern Rivers. I have been teaching for 20 years including time as a class teacher, drama teacher and now director.

What do you remember best about primary school?

My favourite memory is of my whole Year Four class working together to build a huge Viking longboat, which took over half of the classroom area. It was my first experience of an integrated unit, where we learned about distance, art, communication and the history of the islands. Unfortunately I also have a very strong memory of speaking to a teacher about the fact I was being bullied and being told it was OK and that she liked the fact it would keep me quiet in class!

What teaching qualifications do you have?

I have a Bachelor of Education (Hons).

Where else have you worked and how has it shaped your general outlook and your approach to teaching children today?

I worked for six years in Aberdeenshire as a peripatetic teacher and discovered very early on that every school, teacher and child is different and that you must plan and program for the individuals you are teaching. I also discovered my talents for listening and adapting to the many styles of principals and teachers I worked with. In Australia, I started working in a small independent school that taught mainly Indigenous children and where I discovered the joy of learning alongside the students – discovering Australia and having them teach me about their culture.

What are your main teaching and classroom philosophies?

I would like the students I teach to become independent learners – fascinated about the world around them. I teach my students to be respectful of each other and to use the new mindfulness techniques we learned recently when they find this tricky. I love to see them create, design, read, evaluate and take pride in their work. I encourage them to see that this is real-life learning and to realise that self-confidence comes when skills and knowledge are developed.

Why do you enjoy teaching at BCPS?

I love the family feel – and the fact my son is part of the community here. I have huge respect for the staff who work here and I am constantly learning from them. I love the kids – they are excited, talented and confident to try new ideas or lessons. I feel honoured that I am able to create my own lessons and plans for my classes and can adapt them when the students engage in a different way than expected.

What do you enjoy teaching the most?

I love my drama days – a chance to work with all students in the school and I love that they can learn while playing.

What is your greatest achievement?

My family and the life we have created on the North Coast.

What aspirations still lie ahead of you?

I look forward to seeing my son grow and learn from the staff here at BCPS. As the director, I am in the process of working on a plan for the future and I would love to see these plans become realities.

Do you teach any subjects other than your regular class?

On Mondays I teach the Whales; on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays I am the director full-time; and on Wednesdays I teach drama.

What occupies your time outside school hours?

Family, theatre, renovating our house and travelling.

If you weren’t a primary teacher, how do you think you’d be spending your days?

I hadn’t actually planned to become a teacher! I had applied and been accepted to study marine biology but in the months before starting university I helped a teacher friend out by taking my dive equipment to school and talking about life underwater for an afternoon. I was still in the classroom three days later and realised that I wanted to change my life’s direction.