Your Name: Gemma McCarron
Job Title: Head of School, The Apple Tree International Kindergarten
What is your nationality and background?
I was born and grew up in London, UK, although I have been living and working in Thailand for a number of years now.
What is your profession?
I have been working as a teacher for over 12 years and have enjoyed an incredibly rewarding career holding teaching and administration positions in London and a wide range of International schools. During this time, I have also designed and rolled out teaching and Learning programmes, and led training and mentoring for aspiring teachers. I found it very satisfying to help the newly-qualified and experienced teachers (and their schools) implement best educational practice. I have now moved into the very exciting position as founding Head of School at The Apple Tree International Kindergarten.
What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
I view my role to be the education and welfare of the children under our care. Drawing closely on my past experience as a trainer and mentor to teachers, I believe it is vital to work closely and support my team of outstanding teachers to ensure that the children always receive an enriched and balanced learning experience. We want to ignite the children’s curiosities and develop opportunities for progress through their passions.
How did you get involved in your profession?
I initially graduated with a law degree, but I soon discovered my passion for education and retrained to become a teacher by undertaking my Postgraduate Teaching Degree (PGCE) and completing a Masters in Education. During this time, I grew beyond my classroom responsibilities and began to lead various teaching and learning responsibilities across the whole school, as well as senior management roles. I feel incredibly privileged and rewarded by my experiences and opportunities and how they have enabled me to make a genuine difference to the children’s learning and development experiences.
How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?
From the moment I joined The Apple Tree, I was immediately enamoured by the Board of Directors, who share my belief that there should be no compromises when it comes to serving the children’s educational and welfare needs. Such an approach allows us to truly value each individual child and to work closely with parents to meet their needs and to help every child to reach their full potential. Whilst academics are important, we also aim to expose the children to a wide range of learning experiences through a much wider curriculum of activities, such as gardening, yoga, mindfulness and music appreciation to name a few, and to ensure that the children’s personal, social, emotional and academic needs are holistically met.
What challenges do your face in this role?
As a society, we have begun to place increasingly high academic and developmental demands and expectations on very young children. It can be challenging for parents to understand the importance of play within their child’s education. At The Apple Tree, we believe in learning through play. We want to work in close partnership with our parents and share the children’s achievements through each child’s online Learning Journal. We want to invite the parents to see how our teachers structure play sessions for themselves. I believe our approach can help to educate parents about how play develops the vital social skills, communication development, cognition, problem solving and reasoning skills, and imaginative thinking skills that their children require.
What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
My aim is that The Apple Tree International Kindergarten will provide the highest quality of care and education for our children, which will give them a strong foundation for their future learning. All members of our school team are committed to fostering a safe and happy environment. We are here to provide motivating and enjoyable learning experiences to help develop our children into confident and independent learners.
Who or what inspires you?
The children under my care inspire me every day. I find the children’s outlooks, capabilities, determination and innate enthusiasm for growing and developing very humbling and, more often than not, the children teach me profound insights on a daily basis.
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