A decade of teaching has taken Megan Davies on a unique and intriguing journey.
Originally from Wales, Megan trained as a Welsh-speaking chemistry teacher, spending the first four years of her career teaching science and chemistry through the medium of Welsh. From there, she headed to the Australian Outback, where she taught students on remote cattle stations. And in 2016 – after travelling through some of the world’s most far-flung destinations - Megan landed in Auckland on a backpacker visa to take up a one-year role at ACG Senior College.
Five years on, and she’s not only still with ACG, having moved to ACG Sunderland, but she’s also a proud permanent resident of New Zealand.
You only planned to stay in New Zealand for 12 months – what changed?
I fell in love with the place! I taught for three years at ACG Senior College, where I was responsible for the delivery of the Cambridge and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Chemistry curricula for Years 11 to 13, and held positions of Assistant International Dean, Year 13 Dean and Year 11 Dean. After the campus closed in December 2018, I was offered a position at ACG Sunderland, which has been an excellent fit for me as it complements my strong principles about education.
What sets ACG Sunderland apart when it comes to science?
Science at Sunderland begins in the Primary years, where students have two science lessons per week, delivered by a specialist science teacher. In Years 5 and 6, students from the Primary come into the College laboratories for their twice-weekly science lessons. I believe this is a unique point of difference for the school. The Cambridge Curriculum requires a high level of practical skills, and students are given a lot of practical experience, alongside the in-depth theoretical understanding required by Cambridge. Through Years 7 to 10, students have general science lessons with their science teacher, and from Year 11, they have a specialist teacher for biology, chemistry and physics.
What area of science are you particularly interested in?
Chemistry is my passion! I find the whole field of chemistry fascinating, but particularly at an atomic level. Everything is made of atoms, particles that are too small to be seen by even the most powerful microscopes. It’s amazing to understand that the interaction of these atoms is what makes everything possible.
How do you think your students would describe you?
I would hope that they’d describe me as kind, caring, respectful, patient and knowledgeable! I was really proud when I recently gave a class of students an anonymous questionnaire about my teaching, and many commented that I was ‘respectful’. My emphasis as a teacher is always on building positive and supportive relationships with my students (and colleagues).
What have been some of your proudest career moments?
I am always proud of my students and what they accomplish, but relevant to ACG Sunderland, I was especially proud when David Li achieved Top in New Zealand for AS Chemistry in 2019, and Cedric Siriwardana achieved Top in the World for IGCSE Combined Science in 2020.
How important is science in setting students up for the future?
Science will provide the answer to many of the world’s problems, and the young people I teach are the scientists of the future - they have the potential to make a difference. Even for students who choose not to follow a future career in science, having a good scientific understanding and strong practical skills will set them up well for many other pathways.
In addition to being the new Year 9 and 10 Dean, you’re also Faculty Coordinator and Learning Support Coordinator. Can you please describe the learning support provided at ACG Sunderland?
My role as Learning Support Coordinator is large and varied. Mainly, it involves working with students who have an educational psychologist assessment that indicates they would benefit from support of some sort. I meet with students, their families, and teachers to create an Individual Education Plan (IEP), which can include a wide range of supports. I also work alongside students with disabilities to support their learning, working with external agencies to facilitate this. Although I’m passionate about the subject I teach, I’m even more passionate about young people achieving their best and supporting them to do that. For that reason, I particularly enjoy my role as Learning Support Coordinator.
Tell us something our families might not know about you.
In March 2019, I began studying for a Master of Educational Leadership part-time through the University of Auckland. I completed the programme in November last year and was delighted to be awarded a Master’s degree with Distinction. This is my second master’s degree; the first is a Master of Education, which I completed part-time early in my teaching career. I believe in life-long learning, and my senior students enjoy hearing about my own learning experiences.