Opening up doors at TrinityJohn Blois
If you’re on campus at Trinity’s Middle and Senior School by 6:30am, you might expect to find no one around, but you’d be mistaken. Ms Norma Kamhieh – Head of English and a self-described morning person – gets to the School grounds this early each morning, something she’s done from her earliest days at Trinity.
But she’s not alone. Just 15 minutes later, students who participate in RAW Sports are also on campus and Ms Kamhieh uses her early bird advantage to get involved in the Co-curricular herself.
“When I first got to Trinity, I had a young child – who was just one at the time – so I wanted to get involved with something that catered for my needs,” she says. The early start time of RAW was exactly what she was looking for. Now, she is no longer required to be involved with a Co-curricular, but she has remained with RAW for the relationships that she’s built with other staff members and the students.
“It’s quite extraordinary to see the life of a Trinity boy and the commitment he has to be at school at that time,” she says. “Their attendance is wonderful, they don’t miss a session, and it’s just good to see students who you wouldn’t imagine to be friends, be in that collaborative space together.
“I’m not just there as an English teacher, I’m there as someone who is witnessing them grow in their skills. But for me, the relationships with other staff are very important, being able to interact with people who were outside my faculty.”
Taking up these different opportunities has been a real hallmark of Ms Kamhieh’s time at Trinity. One that she’s particularly proud of is her recent step into a role as an International Baccalaureate (IB) examiner – for both components; the Individual Oral and Paper 2 – a position she says she wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the encouragement and support of Trinity leadership as she engaged with the wider IB credential.
“Being new to the IB, it was quite foreign and at first I felt intimidated by being surrounded by people who were experts in IB, but with the support of the School, they’ve encouraged me to step into the role and participate in the marking and networking with some other schools. They’ve also provided opportunities to join training courses and present at one of the AIS English conferences. That’s developed my confidence and now I see myself as a very competent IB teacher.
“Trinity has opened the doors for me to become an IB examiner. I applied and was supported by the Headmaster as well as the Deputy Headmaster, Deborah Williams, as I did my training, but if I had not engaged with IB and been recommended by the School, I wouldn’t have been offered a position as an Examiner.”
Ms Kamhieh has also found a new opportunity in becoming a Mentor for Trinity’s Teacher Education Internship programme – a role that has seen her pass on some of her knowledge to new, pre-service teachers while also growing in her own skills.
“At the beginning [the Interns] tend to be a little bit shy and afraid to make mistakes. My role is to try and encourage them to ask questions and my role is to be the active listener and to promote them to go in and have a look at different classes but also experiment in their own pedagogy and to be flexible in what could happen in the classroom,” she says.
“I try to provide feedback that is constructive; I’m not there just to tell them how great they are in the classroom, it needs to be constructive and to develop goals that the intern could also meet, with myself working alongside. I’ve also learnt to be flexible and to allow them to make mistakes and, in my role as an observer in the class, not to jump in and correct the mistakes but allow them to reflect and develop strategies that could enhance their next lesson.”
She also notes the support she’s received from Trinity as a working mother.
“I’m a mother to three children (now 7, 15, and 17) and Trinity continues to support me in balancing my role as an educator, but also as a mother. It has empowered me to thrive at school and excel in my career.”
“Starting a new job at Trinity six years ago was daunting with a baby, but the School really supported me,” she says, noting that she has had many role models as she’s surrounded by strong women as colleagues and mentors. “I am so proud to work at Trinity.”
Ms Kamhieh is a big believer in the power of choice. She’s seen how having different options open to her during her time at Trinity has allowed her to grow in her own career and she knows that the same is true for students who have options available to them.
“Working at Trinity may come across as very demanding, but it is very fruitful,” she says. “It’s important to know that we are working together to grow our students and that our students have choice and agency and we’re really focusing on their development to be good men, but also to make those good choices in life and open up those avenues as to whether they choose a HSC credential or an IB. I think this School allows them to do that.”
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