Mary Morgan is one of the most successful business women, educators and mums in The Canary Islands. She is definitely a role model for all the young entrepreneurs and people who would like to work in education.
In today’s interview she is going to answer some very interesting questions about education, business and life. Plus, she will also share with us what are 3 most important things you should have in mind when deciding on a school for your children.
1 – Can you tell us something about yourself, your profession and your school.
I am the co-founder and co-director of Oakley College, a British International school in Tafira, Gran Canaria. In 1989 my husband and I started a British nursery school in Las Palmas which over the years has grown to a school that now caters for children from 2 – 18 years, preparing students for the International community of study and work.
2 – As you mentioned, you and your husband opened a nursery school back in 1989. What motivated you to open the school back then and, even more importantly, what keeps you going after so many years?
We had arrived on the island some 3 years prior to opening our school. We both taught in another British International school where I taught in upper Primary and lower Secondary and Donat was the Head of Infants. As we fell in love with the island, its people and its culture, we decided that we wanted to settle here and further develop and challenge ourselves to see what opportunities we could create.
Keeping an open mind, learning new skills and adapting to change are our key steps to maintaining a positive outlook and life. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new.
3 – How does your daily routine help you to stay focused, complete all the work and enjoy life on the island?
Work is never really completed as there is always something that you want to finish or start. When you enjoy the process it’s often difficult to separate work from leisure time.
Our new Oakley Park has an allotment that is currently being developed to be a science garden where the children can grow and harvest some fruit and vegetables and learn the practicality of sustainability. The next stage would then be eating the fruits of their labour!
Routines have adapted over the years as our family and the school grew. When you work in a dynamic and growing school you know that your routines will be affected and have to be flexible. A strong home life with a shared vision allows the stability necessary to juggle balancing the work, the children and allowing time to reflect and grow. This sometimes means quiet time, exercise, study or simply rest.
That said, regular healthy meals and family time over dinner have always been non-negotiable at home!
4 – What are the main differences between running a British International school 30 years ago and nowadays?
We were very lucky to have had a great mentor in Beryl Pritchard, the founder and current Head teacher of Canterbury school. She demonstrated every day that problems and set backs were there to be solved and overcome. Her enthusiasm and drive continue to inspire us to be better and solve problems.
We were also fortunate to be young, naïve, energetic and full of dreams!
Whilst technology has changed since just a telephone, a fax machine and a few computers, the learning has continued to adapt to the ever changing environment. Parents want what they have always wanted, the best educational experience for their children. One that they enjoy, that challenges them and provides them with the confidence, knowledge and skills to become successful in their chosen field of work.
Striving to provide the best educational experience, fluid and ongoing communication with our parents, staff and children has allowed us to further develop a school that our community wants and that provides the learning and skills necessary for the modern world.
5 – As a director of a prestigious British International school in Gran Canaria, there have definitely been moments you will remember forever. Can you share with us one of these moments?
We often joke that we could write a book with some of the stories and experiences over the years.
We have had many happy and some sad times that are normal in a school that has spanned almost 32 years since it began.
Each time we hear of or meet a former pupil who as a young adult is making their way in the world of work and forging new dreams, it makes us feel privileged to have been a part of the journey. Many former students are living around the globe working in the Arts, in medicine, in technological study and raising families of their own.
Another proud moment was when Donat received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth 11 in 2016 for services to British International Education and NABSS.
We see and feel special moments every day. Every time a child learns something new for the first time the look of happiness and sense of pride is hard to put into words. The same goes for our community who continue to learn and develop and serve as examples to the children that learning is a lifelong process.
We love to hear of the students successes and where they are. We are lucky that many still keep in touch. With Danny O´Brien and Marta Membrilla taking time to talk to our Y12/13 students about university life and work in Spain and London.
Danny is an independent film maker and Marta a graduate of the London school of Economics and currently working for an international engineering company.
Our children are valued and loved. They understand they are individuals who have something special to offer the world. They are free thinkers, encouraged to question and look deeper into things. The confidence and security they experience allows their naturally inquisitive minds to grow and learn.
Our commitment over the years to local and International charities stems from the belief that we are fortunate and able to give something back to a society that has given us so much. Our Community Service programme in the Secondary department allows our students to activate change and impact their society for the better.
6 – In your opinion, what are the most important values that should be taught through education?
Our school has 3 main values, they are Respect, Responsibility and Resolving problems. It is our hope that all who join us understand that together we can continue learning and making a difference to our communities based on these simple values.
7 – What would you say to someone who thinks learning English is difficult?
Yes, I think English is difficult!
I also think that when you find the right environment for learning you will thrive, grow and learn. So if you are an adult who wants to learn English whether it’s conversational or academic, NikaTeacher will allow you to find your perfect teacher and method of learning that is individual to you.
Likewise Oakley College provides the International British education that allows your child to grow and develop into a confident young person who can who access, Spanish and International universities and work.
8 – When deciding for a school, what are 3 most important things parents should have in mind?
Will my child learn and be happy here?
Is this school going to provide my child with the learning, confidence and opportunities necessary to succeed in today´s world?
Does this school value my child and will I be involved in the learning process?
9 – What are you truly passionate about?
I love my family. They are my joy and passion. I love creating. I also enjoy solving problems and finding solutions. I love our island home where we have been so happy and fortunate. And I love being a part of a school that is committed to providing a school where children who get opportunities, the right environment, love, nurture and stability can thrive wherever they are as they move forward to take on their chosen life challenges and goals.