Meet the Sixth Form Team In 1998 I graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in History and went on to complete a PGCE at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. I started my teaching career in Scotland and have gradually moved south ever since! I began in Preston teaching History and English and then moved to Oundle as a History teacher and Assistant Housemistress. I then moved west to Bristol, where my husband was working and took up a position at Bristol Grammar School as a teacher of History. I also led the Year 11 pastoral team and it was in this role that I realised how much I enjoyed being involved in students’ academic Ms Melissa Stimson, Head of Sixth Form and social development and I knew this was an area I wished to pursue further. From there I moved to Badminton School in 2006 to be the Head of History and Politics and as the years progressed I took on additional roles as Head of Years 9-11 and then Deputy-Head of the Sixth Form. Having joined Downe House in 2012 my main objectives are to ensure that all girls make a smooth transition to the Sixth Form, that they achieve their potential and are fully equipped for study and life beyond Downe. Willis House Mrs Tara Reeve, Housemistress (Willis TR) I began my working life as a producer for BBC News, having graduated from Edinburgh University in 1998 with a First Class MA Honours degree in Russian and then a PGDip in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire. I spent eight years producing major news stories in the UK and Russia. It was a privilege to use my language skills to translate them into news stories for the Ten O’Clock News and the Today programme. I joined Downe House as a Russian teacher in 2008. Joining the Downe community has been an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. More recently, I have headed up the World Languages Department, managing the very widely spoken, but perhaps lesser taught languages of Chinese, Japanese and of course Russian. I have also been a Sixth Form tutor and an evening tutor in Aisholt, which is where my pastoral journey began. I have found it a real privilege being able to spend quality time with the girls away from the classroom and guiding them towards their future career paths. I live in Willis with my husband Ben, my three daughters and two cats. Miss Georgia Leigh, Assistant Housemistress (Willis TR) I spent my secondary school years at St Joseph’s College in Reading. It was here that I developed an interest and passion for the performing arts. As well as a keen actor, I am also a clarinetist, saxophonist, pianist and singer, and I had the privilege of being asked to co-establish a student-led acapella group (school concerts were an extremely busy time for me!) It was during an enriching Sixth Form trip to South Africa that I discovered the joys of working with children and young adults and how drama as a medium can be used as a form of communication across both cultures and languages. During our stay with the Thosofelo Community, and spending time in the schools of the squatter camps (informal settlements), I became inspired by the students’ willingness to learn. I graduated from the University of Exeter with a First Class Honours degree in Drama and was awarded the Dean’s Commendation for exemplary work. I then spent a rewarding gap year working as a Performing Arts department assistant at The Sixth Form College Farnborough, gaining valuable experience working with an outstanding team of teachers and support staff. I then went on to study a PGCE in Secondary Drama at the University of Reading which is where I discovered a passion for pastoral care. As a new member of the Willis House team, and the Drama Department, I am looking forward to the challenges of a fast-paced and busy Sixth Form house as well as getting to know the girls and sharing important moments in their School experience. York House Mrs Victoria Ryan, Housemistress (Willis VKR) After a degree in English and a PGCE in English and Drama I began my teaching career in a large comprehensive school. After three years I moved on to run the Drama Department at Tudor Hall where, as well as teaching and directing several school productions a year, I began my journey through the pastoral care of Sixth Form girls and was an Assistant Housemistress for three years. I then spent six years in the Drama Department at Stowe where I also worked in several boarding houses, finally settling once again in a Sixth Form Girls’ House. I am in my tenth year as Housemistress of Willis House where I live with my son who is at a local Prep School. As well as teaching in the Drama Department I am also Head of Sixth Form General Education which covers the GPR/EPQ programme of academic enrichment for the Sixth Form; both of these are extremely helpful when it comes to supporting the girls in Willis and I find this a very rewarding and enjoyable part of my job. I feel very privileged to share my life with the girls in Willis and I am particularly pleased to be keeping the girls for two years, providing invaluable continuity from Lower to Upper Sixth. Ms Sabrina Natta, Assistant Housemistress (Willis VKR) In 1995 I graduated from the University of Milan with a First Class degree in Modern Foreign Languages and Philology and started my working life in the industry, where I spent the following eight years, ending up in senior managing positions. Although very satisfying, I soon understood that teaching was where my heart was truly leading me, so I decided to train as a teacher first in France at the University of Nice and then in Italy at the University of Genoa, whilst starting my teaching career in 2003 in France first and in Italy next. In 2010 I moved to the UK, which marked the turning point of my life and career. After five years at LVS Ascot, where I covered various roles from language teaching to Assistant Housemistress in the Sixth Form House, I joined Downe House in September 2015 as Assistant Housemistress in Willis, Sixth Form tutor and French teacher. Life at Downe House is fabulously varied and exciting, and what I value most about it is that it is an incredibly true mirror of the ‘life beyond’ Downe, with its challenges, hurdles and success, but most of all with its sense of community and care that nurtures the respect of self and others. To see and help young women grow and become confident adults, supporting them through the challenges that life has in store for them, is an invaluable privilege that is renewed every academic year. Miss Ellen Clark, Housemistress (York EC) After studying for a degree in Marketing I entered the world of work as a merchandiser for a leading women’s clothing retailer in central London. However, I soon found education calling me back and so decided to pursue a career in teaching, gaining my Qualified Teacher Status in 2007. Throughout my career I have worked in various schools in my role as a Psychology teacher, including two years at an International School in Beijing. In my teaching posts I have always held the role of Sixth Form tutor and so have been heavily involved in the UCAS process with several cohorts, including students applying for, and successfully gaining places at Oxford and Cambridge and various prestigious universities both in the UK and overseas. In September 2014 I joined Downe House and after spending my initial year in Willis I moved over to be a Housemistress in York. In addition I am a Higher Education Advisor in the Higher Education and Global Initiatives Team. As part of my role I provide individualised guidance for the Sixth Form girls to take them through the UCAS process and the array of Higher Education options available to them. I am an Oxbridge mentor specialising in Psychology and Social Sciences. I also coordinate the Post Qualification Applications for students who are applying or reapplying to university after leaving the Upper Sixth. I work closely with the rest of the Higher Education Team to provide a network of expertise that the girls can utilise in order to ensure they make the best Higher Education decisions for them. Miss Kathryn Glover, Assistant Housemistress (York EC) Having attended school in Melbourne and Ballarat (Australia) I decided to study at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. I completed a diploma in Performance (2003), degrees in Music and Teaching (2006) and decided that I wanted to stay on in Hobart performing and working at St. Michael’s Collegiate School for girls and then The Hutchins School for boys. I loved my time working across the age groups and teaching some passionate young musicians, however I knew that I needed to travel. In 2010 I embarked on my GAP year. It was to be a year working and travelling around Europe, North America and South America; I made it to the first stop! Since arriving in the UK, I have worked across Berkshire as an Upper Strings teacher and classroom specialist with Berkshire Maestros, embraced prep school teaching and rekindled my love of sport at Feltonfleet Prep School in Surrey. Throughout my experience in both Australia and the UK I have come to realise what is the fundamental core of my teaching: a passion for pastoral care within a boarding community. I am excited to continue to embrace the life and ethos of Downe House along with the day to day challenges and the immense success of each and every girl within York and the whole School community. Mrs Caroline Walton-Waters, Housemistress (York CWW) I trained initially as a Teacher at Chelsea College of Physical Education, graduating in 1975. I spent two years teaching in Brentwood and Eastleigh before starting a family, eventually returning to teaching when my youngest daughter was four. My career has seen me spend 18 years working in the state sector teaching mostly at a comprehensive school in Plymouth seeing my career develop to eventually become Head of PE as well as a Year Head. I gained my BSc in Biological Sciences through Open University during this time. Having realised that pastoral care was where my future lay I made the move to the Independent sector in 2000 when I joined Bruton School for Girls as a Housemistress. I then moved to St Margaret’s, Bushey as a Senior Housemistress. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at both schools before taking on the role of Director of Boarding at Wentworth College in 2005. I joined Downe House in 2008 as a teacher of biology and Housemistress. My time at Downe House has seen me working both in the mixed age and Sixth Form sectors as well as teaching biology to girls from Remove to the UV. I became Housemistress of York North in 2012. It has been very rewarding to watch York North and York South develop from being two very separate houses into the single entity it is now. One of my roles is coordinating the Caledonian Society which has grown steadily over the past four years. Strong links have been forged with Radley, Eton and Harrow with formal Black Tie events taking place each term. It has proved so popular that its membership consists of over half the Sixth Form. I feel extremely privileged to be part of such a strong Sixth Form team which has one goal, that to see the girls develop into dynamic and forceful young women who are able to meet the demands of independent life. Miss Aneya Scott, Assistant Housemistress (York CWW) (maternity cover) After graduating last year with a Masters in Chemistry from Durham University, I spent three months abroad working for an international research project. The project was in the area of biomimetics – imitating natural processes for the purpose of solving complex human problems. In particular I was looking at plant surfaces to learn more about water capture mechanisms that could be used to combat global water shortages. The first two months of my time were spent in Kuala Lumpur in a botanic garden, after which I travelled to Christchurch, New Zealand, where I taught scientific workshops in schools. It took me by surprise how much I enjoyed working in a school setting and this is what inspired me to apply to work in schools when I got back to the UK. Having been to both an all-girls and a boarding school myself, working at Downe House seemed like a perfect fit and I feel very lucky to have been welcomed into such a caring community.
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