ONE teacher who is passionate about influencing children in Wearside about the benefits of a university education is Sunderland University graduate Claire Johnson.
From the age of 10 Claire was determined to become a teacher – inspired by those who taught her as early as primary school.
Her ambitions were fulfilled when she graduated with a degree in Primary Education from Sunderland in 1999, walking straight into a job at Broadway Junior School in Grindon.
Now, 13 years later, she’s acting deputy headteacher at the same school, a Year 6 co-ordinator, and a local authority Advanced Skills Teacher in ICT, supporting other teachers’ professional development throughout Sunderland.
But it’s in the classroom where she still enjoys making an impact, educating youngsters about the benefits of a university experience, just as she was inspired by her own teachers at Castletown Primary and Castle View School.
Claire, 33, said: “The children in my class often ask me how I got to be a teacher. Some often don’t realise you have to go to university to get this job, so if you can educate them about further and higher education from an early age you can have a positive influence on their lives.
“To be able to talk about university and college definitely encourages the pupils’ ambitions.”
University had such an impact on Claire that she returned to Sunderland in 2004 to study for her Masters degree – Teaching and Learning with ICT – which fuelled her passion for ICT and led to her role working one day a week with Sunderland City Council.
She said: “I still feel I have a lot more to give in the classroom and hope to have an impact on the professional development of other teachers as well as supporting with the leadership and management of the school.”
Claire also credits her family’s support, and believes that the cost should not deter youngsters from pursuing their ambitions.
She explained: “I received financial support when I started studying for my degree. But I wanted to become a teacher so much and would have found the money somehow; I hope no young person is deterred by the tuition fees from doing the same.”