Teaching Does Not Have a Magic Formula, It Only Takes a Little Soul

An interview with Susan Marks, Teacher of Science

Ms. Susan Marks joined the British School of Bucharest in 2020 and brought significant experience in her role as a Chemistry Teacher. Having completed an Open University degree, she spent 17 years teaching at an independent girls boarding school in Wales with a coeducational sixth form. In addition to her role in the Science Department, Sue is an accomplished pastoral leader. She has worked as a Head of Year with a variety of age groups for over a decade and has been instrumental in mentoring colleagues new to similar roles.

Why did you go into teaching?

Teaching was in my soul and I felt it was my vocation from a very early age. To be able to inspire younger generations to follow a career pathway and similarly saving some from falling through the cracks is incredibly rewarding. I am proud to call myself a Teacher.

What made you want to join BSB?

I am an ardent Europhile and to teach in the European country furthest from the UK in the best school in Bucharest was a very exciting prospect so I took it! My children are all grown up so it seemed the perfect time to take the leap and escape babysitting duties for my grandchildren in term time.

Have you adjusted to life in Bucharest and at BSB?

The city, even in COVID times is vibrant with fascinating and beautiful architecture. I can spend hours wandering the city, coffee in hand. Staff at BSB have been incredibly welcoming and supportive and being a Year 7 tutor is great fun.

How is BSB different from the independent girls boarding school you previously taught in?

There are a lot more boys! The impact they have makes for a very different atmosphere but also a very interesting and energetic environment. Did I say loud?

How does your prior teaching experience help you be a better Teacher?

Experience brings a deep knowledge of the examination system and the ability to give hints and tips that will gain extra marks for students, is golden. This increases the confidence of students and a self-belief that they will achieve.

What makes an excellent pastoral leader in a school?

A pastoral leader must be one of the most trusted members of staff for pupils and colleagues alike. To know everybody’s name and be omnipresent is essential: it would also help to be cloned.

What do you think are the most significant challenges that students are facing today?

The uncertainty over the current examination system and entry to universities is causing huge anxiety and it is very difficult to advise as a Teacher, as we know little more than the students do. What we can be sure of is that the system will adapt to what is happening and students should keep their ambitions active and access whatever comes next.

If you weren't a Chemistry Teacher, what would your dream job be?

I would own a Koala sanctuary. They are the cutest animals on Earth.

And finally: tell us something unexpected about yourself.

In the summer of 2014, a friend asked, ‘Do you fancy an adventure?’ Nobody had ever asked me that before. She had bought a very old and slightly decrepit, 1970’s black and red Bedford camper van, online and unseen, and wanted to travel Europe in it, so we did. We collected it en route and called him Bertie. We travelled to lots of countries and we were allowed to park in public car parks. We were quite the spectacle for local children everywhere who always gathered every morning to watch us open the door. Bertie’s engine got so hot when travelling, we couldn’t put our feet on the floor but we had the best fun and I laughed so much my jaw ached! We almost got stuck at the very top of the Gotthard Mountain Pass but my knowledge on the manual choke saved the day. Our last stop was the Montreux Jazz Festival. What fun!

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