4 Surrey primary teachers share what they love about their job

PUBLISHED: 11:48 05 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:03 10 May 2017

Helen Black

Helen Black

Archant

We meet some of the unsung heroes of our schools. In this issue we meet primary teachers who build the foundations for a child’s learning and development

Melissa Dallamore, Sutton Valence Preparatory School

Melissa DallamoreMelissa Dallamore

Why did you become a primary teacher?

I have always wanted to be a teacher, I have never wanted to do anything else. My mum still has the picture I drew when I was a little girl, of me standing at a blackboard in front of a class.

What is the best part of your job?

No two days are ever the same. I love working with children and their spontaneity. Seeing them develop their skills and understanding is very rewarding.

Tell us a funny story?

I dressed up as an alien for a Space-themed day, in a full-length green alien onesie and green spots on my face. It was only when I was walking around the supermarket after school, wearing my normal clothes again, that I realised I hadn’t cleaned my face.

If you could be a children’s book character what would it be and why?

It must be pretty cool to be Matilda, being able to move things with my eyes. That might be handy in the staff room, to bring my cup of tea to me.

Why are the primary years so important to a child’s development?

The saying that a child’s brain is like a sponge, soaking up all the information, is so true. A primary child can learn so much in those early years, and it is our responsibility to ensure we give them as much access as possible to that information, in a fun, memorable and varied way.

Name three children’s authors/performers you would invite to your classroom and why.

Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl and JK Rowling. Julia Donaldson has written such an extensive collection of enjoyable, fun and educational books.. As a child, my favourite author was Roald Dahl. Finally, as a parent, when one of my children was reading a Harry Potter book, was when I first saw her sheer enjoyment and wonder as an independent reader, and JK Rowling opened up a whole new world for her.

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Jen Parker, Reception Teacher at Lingfield Prep

Jen ParkerJen Parker

Why did you become a primary teacher?

Growing up I always had a passion for working with and caring for children but as I got older I also became interested in computer technology. I studied BSc Computing at university and worked in the City. My passion for teaching remained and I gave up my city job in IT to follow this passion with a PGCE. I love children, their sincerity, their innocence and their ability to learn and absorb information when taught in a kind and encouraging environment.

What is the best part of your job?

Watching the children’s holistic development; observing growth in confidence, skills and becoming proud of their own abilities and achievements. Having the opportunity to laugh and make fun memories with the children that they still remember in year 6.

Tell us a funny story?

Becoming a teacher is helping me to overcome (not quite fully yet, though!) my fear of vomit... especially when it is spraying through a box of Lego!

If you could be a children’s book character what would it be and why?

Tinkerbell because she is little but strong and loves to look after the friends and children around her.

Why are the primary years so important to a child’s development?

Primary years, especially the Early Years Foundation Stage, is such an important time for children to build the foundation blocks of their learning, develop their critical thinking skills, become increasingly independent and develop a passion for learning. Each child comes with their own personality and of course with their own levels of learning and confidence.

Name three children’s authors/performers you would invite to your classroom and why?

Julia Donaldson – because we all love The Gruffalo. Roald Dahl – because he has such a fantastic imagination. CS Lewis – because I love Narnia.

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Helen Black, Deputy Head of Lower School at Downsend School, Leatherhead

Helen BlackHelen Black

Why did you become a primary teacher?

I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher from a young age. I have always been fascinated by how children learn and I wanted to do something that could make a difference. From my first day on teaching practice I was hooked, I would come home buzzing each day eager to share the day’s stories.

What is the best part of your job?

I have now been a teacher for 18 years and the passion that drives me has only increased. I love the fact that every day is different, bringing fresh challenges and I particularly enjoy the creative aspects of teaching and making a subject exciting to the children.

Tell us a funny story?

I do have the tendency to lose my things and I can never remember where I have left them. The children at Downsend know this and I often get back to my desk to see the found object with a little note from a group of children, explaining where I have left it this time.

If you could be a children’s book character what would it be and why?

I would be Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series. She is kind and brave, has a no nonsense approach, and highly respected by everyone.

Why are the primary years so important to a child’s development?

Strong primary years ensure children develop their cognitive, social, emotional, cultural and physical skills to the very best of their capabilities. They set the foundations for how a person will continue to learn into adulthood and can inspire or quash passions.

Name three children’s authors/performers you would invite to your classroom and why.

Philip Wells – Fire Poet, Xanthe Gresham – Story Teller and Philip Pullman – author. Each of them has such a strong ability to bring poetry, stories from the past, or other cultures and fiction, alive in such an exciting way which is inspirational to read and watch.

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Kate Schutte, Head of English at Cranleigh Prep School

Kate SchutteKate Schutte

Why did you become a primary teacher?

I love learning and feel passionately that every child should experience a love of learning too.

What is the best part of your job?

I feel very lucky to be working with the younger generation. On a daily basis, I witness learning taking place before my eyes, as I watch these young people mature and grow into responsible adults.

Tell us a funny story?

It was on the last day of term, before we were due to break up for Christmas. The school was invited into the Hall. It was at this point, they were told that their “special treat” was to be an hour-long geography lecture. After a few minutes of the lecture, the stage lights went on, the curtains drew back and a surprise, staff production of the pantomime ‘Aladdin’ began. All of the teachers had been secretly practising for weeks. The shock and delight on children’s faces was priceless.

If you could be a children’s book character what would it be and why?

I would have to be Miss Honey, from Matilda by Roald Dahl. She inspires, nurtures, and sees wonder in every child in her care.

Why are the primary years so important to a child’s development?

In these short years parents, carers and educators lay the groundwork for a child’s future learning. We have unique opportunity to inspire children’s minds; to help develop socially, culturally and emotionally; and to accompany them as they mature. In the primary years, we help the children grow their wings, so that they can fly.

Name three children’s authors/performers you would invite to your classroom and why.

JK Rowling because she has inspired a generation of readers. Barack Obama whose message to children is to love, not hate, and to appreciate differences as something to cherish, not fear. Beatrix Potter, as she created the most wonderful characters which continue to delight, inspire and enlighten children of all ages.

Published in A+ Education Spring 2017

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