Old Andrean Andrew Smythe is back after leaving St Andrew’s Cathedral School over 30 years ago. In this interview, Andrew speaks about his experience as a student and what he’s learning now as a teacher-in-training.
Why did you decide to come back to St Andrew’s Cathedral School?
I’m studying to become a teacher and I had to organise my own practical teaching placements. I thought I’d try my old stomping ground here and see if I could be accommodated. Thankfully, the school did all it could to make a place for me.
What do you remember about the School from your time as a student?
It was very strict back in those days. There was corporal punishment. You walked around a little on eggshells. By and large, I found it a great school and I formed some great friendships. My Dad worked here as a science coordinator for 15 years and I was very much keen on mathematics and science, William Shakespeare wasn’t for me.
You describe your teaching style as ‘warm’ and ‘friendly’. Does that surprise you given your experience with stricter forms of discipline in the classroom?
The comments I’ve been getting so far is that I’m more on the friendly side than on the strict side of things. No it doesn’t surprise me, I guess it comes with the Christian upbringing I’ve had and that’s the approach I took with my own kids. But balance is important and I’m learning everyday about the fine line between being approachable and letting the class run over the top of you. It’s something I’ll take with me into future classrooms.
Can you tell me about the classroom you’re currently teaching in?
I’m teaching in the classroom I first started in as a student! The only difference is that it faces the opposite direction. It’s quite surreal and comical in some ways. It also feel natural and homely – it’s where I started as a student and it’s where I’ve started as a teacher. There’s a nice symmetry there.
It’s been 32 years since you left St Andrew’s Cathedral School. Why change your career and come back now?
I love being with people. It’s not something I get to do in my current job as a service technician which I’ve been doing since I left. It’s great to be able to do something that feels like it has a purpose – seeing children learn is something I’m passionate about. You can share the learning journey with them and pass on some tips and tricks to understand life. That’s what I like about it.
What are your hopes for the future as a teacher?
I want to be able to share the love of Christ with children. Jesus welcomed little children to him. I get that opportunity as a Prac teacher in a Christian school, I get to model what it is to be a follower of Christ and that’s one of the things I’m passionate about doing.