During my own senior school years, I participated in a 6 week long youth expedition to Kenya where I helped to build a school. It was during this experience that I realised how education can positively influence the lives of young people and I have since devoted myself to training in this field. I was privileged to be welcomed into their community to conduct research of their health care system and outreach programs. What I witnessed on some of these visits will stay with me forever, and deserve a blog all of their own…We also climbed Mount Kenya at 17,500 feet conducting ecological studies as we gained altitude, white-water rafted the Tana River, went caving with Masai Mara through dormant volcano, Mount Suswa, and had our camp site raided by both baboons and a herd of elephants on a 5 day safari in Samburu National Reserve. Excellent stuff!
Aberlour Childcare Trust
At the age of sixteen, I became a Relief Project Worker with the Aberlour Childcare Trust working with children with special needs and behavioural difficulties at a respite centre, developing skills in intensive care, recording and reporting, communication and behaviour management. I kept this post during my entire university career whilst also pursuing voluntary work with the Quarrier’s Befriending Project. This involved working with 16-25 year olds who were living in temporary accommodation, often unemployed and drug-dependant, with unstable family histories. I believe these experiences gave me an understanding and patience that is essential in the teaching profession.
Scotland Romania Language Link SCROLL
At university, I volunteered two summers in Romania teaching conversational English to children aged 14 to 18 years with the Scottish Romanian Language Link Programme. In addition to developing my teaching skills, I went on to become President of the Glasgow University branch of the organisation where I designed and delivered training packages to new recruits, coordinated fundraising events, and delegated to a team of twelve. I acquired skills in leadership, management and administration that have aided my professionalism within teaching.
Autism Pilot Project
I took a year out between my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and my teacher training, during which I worked on a pilot project researching autism. I worked with a pre-school child on an early intervention programme, employing Applied Behavioural Analysis techniques and Makaton sign-language to aid autistic children to communicate. This post involved working with teachers, parents, physicians at Yorkhill Hosptial, and Scotland’s leading educational psychologist, in producing research documentation and practical guidelines in the education of children with autism. The success of this project was in the provision of government funding for a city establishment where these techniques are now being employed, helping many autistic children into mainstream schooling.