Talking Teachers: Meet The Teachers At Hong Kong Academy

Meet The Team

HKA open house and personalized tours - integrated curriculum

We debut the Little Steps’ Talking Teachers series, where parents can meet, greet, and get tips from Hong Kong’s awesome teachers. Get personal with these fabulous personalities, get into their classrooms, find out their teaching style, and learn what makes a great teacher!

In this edition, we say hello to the amazing team at Hong Kong Academy: Ben Thomas, Carly Buntin, and Jo Crimmins.

  • LS_TT_Ben_Thomas_2

    1. Where were you born and where did you grow up?I was born in Birmingham in the UK and grew up in a small suburb there called Moseley. I still visit every summer to catch up with friends and family but it’s not really the place I call home anymore to be honest. I took a year out after my A-Levels and worked and travelled around Australia and then studied teaching at the University of Gloucestershire. My GAP year was highly influential in my decision to become a teacher as I worked in the English and P.E departments of a fantastic school in Darwin and taught some amazing kids from the Aboriginal communities. I did a lot of growing up and self-reflecting in that year and soon changed my degree to teaching.


    2. What’s your morning ritual? I’m up quite early to walk the dog. She’s very caring and tends to wake me up by licking my ear or resting her head on my face. I try to make time for a coffee before I leave my place and I’ll always read over my work emails before I arrive at school. If I haven’t written the schedule up on the board already, I’ll do that and then set up my laptop ready for the day. I like to project a lot of stuff through my laptop and give the students things to look at and discuss during my classes so I make sure they’re all up and running. I hate not being prepared! The last thing I do before the students walk in is select a few suitable and thought-provoking facts from my Fact-App and write these up on the board too. I like to see which students notice and it amuses me when they come in and go straight to the facts of the day.


    3. How would you describe your teaching style? I don’t know really. I’ve never been asked that before. I like to be open with the kids; share information about who I am, where I’m from, what makes me me. They’re an inquisitive bunch here at Hong Kong Academy and like to ask questions and find out what makes things tick. I have high expectations of the students and of myself. I want them to know that they can all succeed and I very much buy in to the Growth Mindset Statements: instead of saying, “This is too hard,” try, “This is going to take some time and real effort.” I like to explore how our actions and our behaviours have impacts on people and that we all have the power to make someone feel something about us. It’s an interesting thing to discover about yourself; that you can make or break someone’s day by something you have said or done to them. Challenging every student, encouraging them to reach their potential and persevering until they’re proud of their achievements - that’s what I try to instill.


    4. One amazing memory from your time as a teacher? The students shouldn’t just see me as their teacher. I want to be seen as a real person too. Someone who makes mistakes, gets frustrated or nervous, feels afraid but finds his courage, laughs at silly things and goes off-topic to have a conversation about something that matters. Being on camp with the kids and doing all the high ropes activities is brilliant. Not only do you see them out of the school environment, they also see you. I remember dangling off a cliff face, about to abseil down onto the rocky beach below. One student next to me was absolutely petrified. Scared stiff. I told her that I was just as scared as she was but, together, I reckon we could do it. We took our sweet time going over the edge and lowering ourselves down one inch at a time but the smiles, high fives and round of applause from her classmates at the end was so uplifting and well worth it.


  • LS_TT_Carly_Buntin_1

    1. What/Who inspired you to want to be a teacher? My favourite teacher in Secondary School was my main inspiration. He genuinely cared about us and supported our social and emotional growth as well as our academic growth. He was so unbelievably passionate about teaching that it inspired me to follow suit and endeavour to offer this to others.


    2. What's your morning ritual? I wake up to an ecstatic one year old, shower, get ready in between reading to/running after/playing with said one year old, and then my husband and I drive to school together. I typically eat breakfast in my classroom, if I have time before the kids arrive.


    3. Your favorite travel break! Anywhere that involves family time and a spa.


    4. How is your classroom decorated? With a lot of visuals. It's colourful and the displays are purposeful. I'm tying to bring in more natural elements and home comforts like rugs, cushions and lamps to make it feel warm and inviting- it's getting there!


    5. Best advice to people who want to get into teaching? Listen. Really listen. Listen to the children whole-heatedly and actively. Listen to your team. Listen to your body. Listen to your heart. Do it because you love it. Oh, and find a school that really matches your personal philosophy when it comes to teaching and learning. It will work out better for everyone!

  • LS_TT_Jo_Crimmins_2

    1. What/Who inspired you to want to be a teacher? I was inspired by my Drama teacher Mrs. Moore. I loved being involved in school productions and her lessons were so much fun!


    2. Your favorite travel break! It used to be a beach holiday but as I’ve got older I get bored sitting on a beach. Now I like to visit cities or travel from place to place so I can see as much as possible in the time available to me. One of my favourite travel experiences has been travelling around Rajasthan. The people and places are just so vibrant and interesting …


    3. How would you describe your teaching style? I see myself as a facilitator. I truly believe when creating a piece of work it should come from from the student’s ideas. When we devise scenes for the school production I facilitate and students create.


    4. One amazing memory from your time as a teacher? I have so many amazing memories from my time as a teacher both in my home country of Wales, UK and internationally. I think some of the best memories have been through working with ISTA (International Schools Theatre Association) as the students make such wonderful memories that they keep and treasure forever. HKA were fortunate enough to host an ISTA festival in October 2016.


    5. Best advice to people who want to get into teaching? Be true to who you are and keep smiling!

  • Hong Kong Academy

    33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung, New Territories, Hong Kong.

    (+852) 2655 1111


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