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Spotlight on Staff: Dr Katherine Greenley

Chemistry teacher Dr Katherine Greenley loves Sci-Fi movies, outdoor adventures and teaching students to think. In July she will accompany students on their World Challenge adventure to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Why did you become a teacher?

I was following a path into scientific research when I realised it wasn’t the career for me. I’d become involved with a science club at a local high school and, through this, the seed was sown.

I was determined for young people not to have the experience I had at school. I knew what kind of teacher I did not want to be. Watching young people grow and discover what they are capable of has been an absolute delight and is the main reason I stay in the profession.

What most interests you about Chemistry as a subject?

It’s difficult to know where to start! It’s an amazing subject and never ceases to astound me.

Chemistry is in everything and also crosses over with so many other disciplines. The idea that you can look at a simple glass of water or think about the air that you breathe and be completely blown away by what’s going on, on an atomic scale, is phenomenal.

I hope to be able to pass on some of that passion in my teaching.

What makes a good teacher?

Someone who is real and honest with young people and not afraid to make mistakes in front of them.

Someone who sees each student as an amazing individual with so much to offer, even if their strength does not lie within your own subject.

A good teacher is so much more than the subject they teach. It’s someone who encourages students to push a little outside their comfort zone to explore what they are capable of.

I want students to be thinkers and learners not just receptacles for information and facts.

What motivates your involvement in Duke of Edinburgh and Tramping Club?  

Many students have never hiked or camped before and some have never even visited the bush. Watching their smiles and, often, relief on completing their The Duke of Edinburgh journeys is delightful.

I particularly enjoy taking international students who have creative ways of dealing with problems like mosquitos in tents!

I have a passion for the outdoors and love walking and I want young people to appreciate the environment. This was one of the motivations behind starting the tramping club.

What is something we might not know about you?

I am a film fanatic, particularly science fiction. Often when teaching I’m reminded of a film that would perfectly explain what we are doing, however our students are not as informed on past films!

Can you tell us about World Challenge?

Since being at ACG Strathallan we have had three expeditions, Cambodia and Vietnam (2012), South India and Rajasthan (2014) and Ecuador and the Galapagos (2016).

Though exhausting, both physically and mentally, I enjoy these trips, particularly watching the students’ growth, rich experiences and friendships.

Our trip this July is possibly the most challenging and exciting one to date. Students will visit parts of the Silk Route in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the first New Zealand school to do so with World Challenge.

What do you most enjoy about ACG Strathallan?

It’s the first school where not only am I part of a caring and dedicated team, but I have also made some very close friends. There is a strong feeling of community and I am constantly impressed with how our students rise to challenges and the genuine interest they have in you as a person.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

I love outdoor adventures – hiking, mountaineering and trying new things. My biggest thrill has been mountaineering in the snow with ice axes and crampons. I have had two moments of sheer excitement and terror – on top of Ruapehu, and canoeing up the Whanganui River.

Dr Katherine Greenley has a doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Surrey in the UK and diplomas in Physics and Geosciences.