ACG Strathallan English and social science teacher, Marc Richardson, cares deeply about his students. He strives to forge meaningful connections with each individual pupil, inspiring them to do their best, and develop their full potential.
Marc launched his high school teaching career in South Africa in 2005, moving to New Zealand several years later to take up a teaching role at Macleans College. After returning home, he spent seven years working as a teacher and student dean for a private school, before being appointed Head of English at one of South Africa’s most prestigious public schools.
When Marc is not supporting our students in the classroom, he’s encouraging them on the sports field, as ACG Strathallan’s girls’ hockey coach.
What values are most important to you in a school?
To me a school needs to be structured. A school needs to be a safe space where students can feel secure and happy, no matter what may be happening in their personal lives. Schools should be teaching youngsters to be better versions of themselves so that they can help improve society when they are older.
What was it that attracted you to ACG Strathallan?
I was attracted to ACG Strathallan for various reasons. I loved the fact that the school was surrounded by water. I feel as though water provides both staff and students an innate form of peace, which is something I resonate with. I was also attracted to the opportunity to teach the Cambridge curriculum, which aligns with my style of teaching.
What is it that appeals most to you about teaching English and social science as subjects?
I love the fact that English allows you to have a platform to engage with the students on a deeper level. English gives the teacher and students a platform to discuss, debate and share ideas that other subjects don’t have avenues for. I have a passion for literature and the architecture of language. Social science gives me an opportunity to stretch myself – to allow me to take a step out of my comfort zone.
How do you connect with students to make these subjects engaging and enjoyable?
I feel that it is important to create special relationships with each student. Once they see that you genuinely care about them and their future, their buy-in is much more substantial. I love that no two students are ever the same, and that you need to find that niche that allows you to connect with them on a level that only you and the students can understand.
What can we expect to see from you for the rest of the school year?
You can expect me to be running backwards and forwards from the resource room, frantically trying to get my printing done on time! But in all seriousness, the students have come to know me as the teacher that stands outside the class and greets every student that walks in. I am also coaching the girls’ hockey side this year, and I am passionate about my sport, which means everyone around me needs to know about it.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
The most enjoyable aspect of teaching is the fact that no two days are the same. I love the unpredictable nature of the students and how they may react to a unit of work. Most of the time, the reward comes in the ability to change a student’s perception of the subject and see them start to really enjoy class. Children are probably the most honest people in the world and if they show that they enjoy class, you know it to be genuine.
If we could ask your past students to describe you in five words or less, what do you think they would say?
Witty, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, fun, warm and caring.
What do you enjoy doing outside of teaching?
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my wife and two children. My son and I have a special bond in our love of the Japanese anime “Dragonball Z”. We also like to play video games together. Otherwise, on a nice day, you will see us going for a walk or riding bikes and exploring somewhere we haven’t been before. My family are everything to me and the enjoyment for me comes from seeing them enjoy themselves.
What advice do you give your students to take into the future?
My advice would be to always make sure you are doing what YOU want to do. Often, we appreciate things more when we are invested in a topic or subject. Don’t let peer pressure force you to make the wrong choices. And lastly, my philosophy in life that I always like to pass on is: “Leave the world in a better place than when you came into it.”