We continue the Little Steps Talking Heads series, where parents can meet, greet, and get tips from Hong Kong’s Heads of Schools! Get personal with these fabulous personalities and find out what makes them tick, their advice for parents navigating the schooling scene, and their favorite things about life in the city.
In this edition, we say hello to Carrie Johnson, the Curriculum Coordinator of Woodlands Pre-Schools.
1. Do you have a nickname? My University Hoodie has the nickname ‘Little chatterbox’ emblazoned on it…I have no idea why?
2. Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born in Bolton in the North West of England and I grew up in Blackburn (the best town in Lancashire and home to a once great football team! I’ll always be a Northern girl but I’m also an adopted Londoner as I lived there for 8 years before coming to Hong Kong.
3. Where do you live in the city and why do you love it there? I live in Sai Ying Pun which is an awesome neighborhood with lots of great places to eat out. It’s also just a walk away from work which is a dream when you’re used to the London commute.
4. What's in your lunchbox? My lunchbox usually ends up staying in the fridge at home as I’m quite forgetful in the morning. If I have been organised enough to pack it then it will usually revolve around chicken and vegetables. They’ll also be a chocolate bar in there – I eat chocolate every day and my colleagues hate me for it!
1. What or who inspired you to become a Curriculum Coordinator? My parents are both teachers and my mum specializes in teaching children with additional needs, this is definitely a passion I’ve inherited from her and supporting children with additional needs was my first step through the door into teaching after I graduated. I hadn’t planned on going into education but I found I fell in love with my job straight away. My dad was actually unwell a couple of years ago and pushed his surgery back so that he could see his A level class through their exams. Their kind words in a card they sent showed how much he’d made a difference in their education and that’s definitely inspired me to try and make a difference to children and put them first. My parents are also very supportive of me and have encouraged me to work hard in order to achieve and I have always held a strong work ethic. When I first became Head of a Children’s Centre in the UK I was only 25 and it was a huge responsibility. But I’d seen the difference my Head had made in ensuring we had a positive work environment and how that support and guidance had made for a successful school. I wanted to be able to drive education forwards and support children by ensuring standards are as high as possible. I’m extremely passionate about children reaching their full potential and I think we are so privileged in our roles as educators as we contribute to that. I want to make sure all teachers do that to the best of their abilities.
2. Describe your school in 5 words or less! I work across the Whole of the Woodlands Group so I’ll have to somehow describe them all… Loving, caring, warm, nurturing, passionate.
1. What's your favorite thing on your desk and why? The wall beside my desk is covered with positive quotes, pictures of my family and the scarves of both the football and rugby teams I support (a little taste of home). The quotes might seem cheesy but I love reading positive words every day and being inspired.
2. What are your 3 favorite children's books? My favorite book as a child was ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ I still think it’s one of the best stories out there. I also love all the Elmer stories and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, as it’s a great book to bring to life.
1. What is the best way for parents to be involved in their children’s education? I used to run parenting classes in the UK and we advised all parents to spend just 10 minutes a day with their children, playing a game of the child’s choice. It’s so important to follow children’s lead and make sure they know that their interests are valued. Ten minutes may not seem like a lot but it can be so hard for busy parents to find time to play with their children and keeping it short ensures its more likely to happen. It should be quality, focused time so that the child is the centre of attention. TV off and phone off!! This might not seem like involvement in ‘education’ but children learn the most through play and what children need most is for their parents to be involved and interested. I’m also the biggest advocate for reading with your child every day.
2. Any tips for parents when applying for schools? I would highly recommend visiting the schools as you definitely get a better feel for them when you’re there. The most important things for a child is that they are happy and tuned into learning. So, find the place where your child will enjoy their schooling – they’ll learn far more and be far more successful if they’re happy! Every child is different and you need to find the best fit for them even if it’s not necessarily your first choice.
3. What's the best advice a teacher or headmistress ever gave you? You get out what you put in. This definitely applies when teaching classes, as if you’re enthusiastic and excited to teach then the children respond to that and you consequently enjoy the experience far more too. This also applies when leading staff, I’ve always found if you provide support, encouragement and understanding then your staff will go the extra mile when its needed.
Woodland Pre-Schools Hong Kong