SPOTLIGHT – NICOLA ROGERS
The spotlight highlights our Welsh whirlwind, Head of Modern Foreign Languages and Sixth Form Tutor, Nicola Rogers.
Nicola was born and grew up in the Rhondda Valleys in South Wales. Developing a passion for languages, she went on to study French and Spanish at Exeter University where she met her husband, Paul. Nicola spent her Erasmus year working as an English Language Assistant in a small town called Evron near Le Mans in France. After completing her degree, she moved to Osnabrück in Germany where she taught English, French and Spanish to German business people and interpreted for the military court in Munster. On returning to the UK, she worked in London for a while teaching English as a foreign language, before she embarked on teacher training. Following experience in the state sector, Nicola came to Warminster in 2007, as a French and Spanish teacher and has been a Sixth Form tutor since 2008. After a stint as Head of Arnold House (the best House according to Nicola!), she became Head of the Languages Department in 2014.
How long have you worked at Warminster?
I have just worked out that this is my tenth year here!
What’s the best thing about your role?
As a tutor I really enjoy getting to know my tutees and helping to guide them through their Sixth Form career and onto the next exciting stage of their lives. It’s great being able to celebrate their successes with them and help them overcome hurdles. Seeing them achieve their goals gives me a huge sense of pride.
As Head of Languages and as a languages teacher, I love being able to share my passion and enthusiasm for other languages and cultures. I am very lucky to work with a talented team who share my desire to inspire young minds and develop a love of learning languages. From our exchange programmes and language immersion trips to our outreach work with local primary schools and a variety of language days and theatre productions, we all strive to provide every opportunity possible for our pupils to engage with the languages we study. We are also very lucky to work with pupils who embrace these opportunities with both hands! Seeing these pupils gain in confidence and develop the passion we have for languages puts a smile on my face every day.
Describe a typical day?
As most teachers will tell you, there is no such thing when you are working with humans! However, my day usually starts with a cwtch (that’s a welsh hug) with my two girls – Lowri, 5 and Bronwen, 9, before the frenzy of breakfast, teeth-brushing, hair and bag packing takes place. I drop the girls off at the Prep School and make my way to my classroom to greet my tutor group and hear all their news and give them any messages for the day. The rest of the day is a mixture of teaching, meetings and a quick catch-up with my department at morning break. Then it’s back to the Prep School for pick-up and home to have tea with my lovely family. The girls get stuck into their prep, I read them a story, they go to bed and I plan lessons, do some marking, send a million emails, organise various MFL events and get my head down ready to do it all again the next day!
What do you think makes Warminster a special place to live and learn?
The warm sense of community and belonging. There are some very special people here – staff and pupils. I feel very privileged to work with such welcoming and caring people on a daily basis.
What would surprise us about you?
I danced on several live episodes of the Welsh equivalent of ‘Top of the Pops’ whilst I was in the Sixth Form at my school.
What other Warminster role would you like to try for a day and why?
I would love to work in the Admissions Department for a day to chat to new families who join us from far and wide and discover the kind of things they are looking for in a new school. I think it would be fascinating.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I found an old book of mine the other day. Inside it says ‘Nicola Thomas, age 8. My ambition is to be a teacher’ – I made it! At university I considered a career in law and also interpreting, but as soon as I taught my first lesson as an English assistant in France, I knew this was the job for me.
What did your school reports say about you?
I really loved school and worked my socks off, so probably something like: Nicola is conscientious and hard working.
Your note/advice to teenage self?
Don’t worry about what others think about you. Just be yourself. Oh – and don’t have a curly perm…! My mother was very good at letting me learn from my own mistakes…
Your mantra/motto or favourite quote?
Oh I have several. I really like Nelson Mandela’s quote:
‘Speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. Speak to him in his own language, that goes to his heart’
I also find myself using a lot of my dad’s quotes these days:
‘Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today’; ‘Short term pain, long term gain’ and ‘If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly’. And one from my mum : ‘If you are not going to say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’.
Hidden ambitions still to achieve?
I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I think I would like to run a marathon one day… did I just say that?
I have just completed the Great West Run in Exeter (only a half marathon) one of my biggest physical challenges to date! I'm really not a natural runner so I was way out of my comfort zone. However, the thought of the time and energy Mrs Sustek had put into helping me train every Sunday morning and everyone's generous donations to the British Heart Foundation and their lovely comments of support and encouragement got me through the course. Having my husband and two girls run the last mile with me helped too.
More importantly though, my real ambition is to be the best parent I can be to my two girls so that they grow up to be morally strong, kind, tolerant, happy and fulfilled. This is what I strive for for all my tutees and pupils too.
A favourite possession you would save from a fire?
Obviously, my husband and children first. After them, I have a big pile of photo albums and memory boxes which I would try to grab.
People who are dishonest and people who say hurtful things.
Tom Jones will always hold a special place in my heart…
The crêpes my husband makes on a Sunday morning – with lashings of nutella.
MasterChef Signature dish?
Fish pie. Oh and welsh cakes of course!
Favourite TV programme?
I can’t remember the last time I watched TV! I do like Strictly Come Dancing, so hope to catch up with that soon. But my all-time favourite is ‘Friends’. My husband and children bought me the box set for Christmas last year which I am still very excited about.
Last book you read?
I’m currently reading El otro árbol de Guernica (Luis De Castresana). I read it for the first time as part of my A level Spanish studies and have loved it ever since. The first few pages make me cry every time I read it!
Last movie watched?
Despicable Me 3 – on a ferry crossing to France in the summer. I have small children…
Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?
A parent of one of my tutees once said I reminded her of Anne Hathaway. So I’ll go with her.
A big glass of water as soon as I get up in the morning. A strong cup of tea at morning break and a glass of Merlot on a Friday evening.
Favorite place/city in the world and why?
Does it have to be just one? Hard to choose between the following:
Brecon Beacons – as well as childhood memories, we enjoyed a fantastic weekend there recently with my brother and his lovely family;
The hills in the valleys where my family live – so many happy childhood memories;
The tranquil, idylic beach of Tulum, Mexico where my husband and I stopped off as we back-packed around the Yucatan Peninsular;
The Dunes de Pyla in France – watching our girls rolling down the dunes in fits of giggles… happy memories make all these places very special.
Twitter or Facebook?
Definitely Twitter. My friends have tried to convince me of the benefits of Facebook for years (one even set up an account for me) but its just not for me. I love the ideas you can find and share on twitter.
You can still support Nicola and her fundraising efforts for BHF