With over 15 years of teaching experience spanning three different countries (and both state and independent schools), Penny Gerrard lights up her classes with expertise, enthusiasm and a real-world perspective.
Originally from South Africa, Penny lived in London and South Korea before moving to New Zealand in 2019 with her husband, ACG Sunderland history and social science teacher Michael Gerrard.
Penny, what attracted you to ACG Sunderland?
The small size and family ethos that the school has – I enjoy getting to know all the students and staff, and that is not always possible in a larger school. I was also drawn to the diversity of students and staff at ACG Sunderland, as I love learning about different cultures.
Currently, you are teaching Year 8 science, Year 11 biology and Year 12 & 13 marine science. What appeals to you most about these subjects?
I love the practical aspects of these subjects and the fact that there are so many real-life applications for most of what I teach. I find the students are able to make connections and assimilate the content when concrete examples can be used.
Is there a specific area of science about which you are particularly passionate?
I’m fascinated by the biological and ecological sides of the sciences. I followed my passion for animals and love of nature at university by majoring in zoology and environmental science. I’ve always enjoyed learning about the interactions of different animals within their natural habitats.
How do you bring your classes to life?
By allowing my students to have a voice and sharing my own personal life experiences. I believe that developing a good relationship with each student is essential to foster a connection that facilitates a positive, fun and engaging learning environment.
How do you think your students would describe you?
Organised and supportive. My students also know that I always expect them to give their best.
How do you find teaching at the same school as your husband?
We really enjoy it, and we are very used to it! Michael and I met at a school we were both teaching at in South Africa. And except for when we lived in South Korea, we have always worked at the same schools.
Any words of wisdom to share with your students?
Embrace new challenges and never be afraid to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.