From decimals to danceJohn Blois
Many people think that there’s a dividing line between those who are creatively-minded and those who are logical thinkers – the right-brained and the left-brained – and those lines are very rarely crossed. At Trinity, many staff are consistently moving between the two and showing students that life doesn’t need to be lived in rigid boxes. Ms Katie Struik is one of these staff members.
Starting at Trinity in early 2021, Katie initially took the position of a Secondary Mathematics Teacher as a long-service leave cover, but after two terms, she knew that Trinity was the right place for her. She started seeking out a more permanent position within the School and has been permanent since January 2022.
“Maths always just kind of made sense to me,” she says. “It’s my personality – I’m a bit of a perfectionist. You either get something right or get something wrong. I really loved Maths when I was at school, until I had a different teacher and I realised that Maths can appear monotonous if the teacher isn’t exciting.
“That’s why I wanted to get into the classroom and make it fun. Maths has this poor reputation and I wanted to be a part of making it positive. It sounds so corny but it’s true!”
Throughout 2021, Katie was focused on finding her feet at Trinity in what could be one of the most challenging years to be a teacher yet. She doesn’t feel like she missed out on much, and the experience only cemented her love of teaching, but she does recognise there were some things she didn’t get in her first year at the School.
“I didn’t get to be a part of the community because we were in lockdown for so long – even when we weren’t in lockdown at the beginning of the year, I was running around trying to figure it all out.”
Now, she’s more than making up for it, throwing herself into Co-curricular life and other opportunities Trinity has on offer. One such opportunity was choreographing Trinity’s production of School of Rock – something that gets her plenty of questions.
“Everyone tells me that the combination of Maths and performing is strange. They can’t understand why I would sign myself up to be part of the drama production,” she laughs.
But Katie had a different career path before she was a Maths teacher – one as a professional dancer. You could spot her dancing on cruise ships, as a back-up dancer on shows like X Factor and The Voice, and many other stages all over the world. When it came to moving on from dancing, Katie says she didn’t have too much trouble working out where she would go next.
“I didn’t want to own my own dance school. I wanted a complete 180° career change. But I’ve been teaching dance since I was about 16. I already knew I loved teaching kids, so I went back to Uni as a mature age student and pursued teaching.”
Once the Head of Drama discovered her background in dance, she was first on the list to assist with the upcoming production.
“I love it. I get to be a Maths teacher by day, but a dance teacher by night. I’m so lucky I get to do both, wearing completely different hats. The relationships built with students through the production are different to what they are in the classroom, and it’s great to have the variety.”
No matter which role she’s taking on, Katie has nothing but praise for the support and opportunities available at Trinity.
“Being a dancer, it wasn’t always the most supportive environment,” she reflects. “There are so many performers in this country with so few opportunities, so it always felt like one big competition. Here at Trinity, I feel like I’m finally in a workplace where I am valued – it’s so nice to be a part of something that means something and to know your team has your back.
“Trinity is the most supportive place I have ever worked. I’ve been supported by the Mathematics department endlessly through conversations, practical help, 1:1 time, resources and more – but it goes beyond that. Members of the Trinity community consistently check in on you to make sure you’re doing well and are feeling supported and valued.”
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