We enjoyed finding out about Nicole Janssen, Head at Parkside School

What or who inspired you to go into teaching?
I had the most incredible piano teacher growing up who was so outside the box that she challenged my thinking from the very beginning. Having been rather bored in school, I found her approach so creative and motivating, that I would go home and practise for hours after every lesson. As a result, I feel that I am creative and very hands-on as a Head and I am always mindful of inspiring future generations. I still teach and wouldn’t want to do my job if I didn’t have that special connection with my pupils. I also encourage my staff to cast aside the textbooks and use their creativity and imaginative teaching style. I expect them to spark curiosity and a willingness to be open minded and pursue learning through enquiry. Lessons are practical and fast-paced, engaging all pupils.

What do you love about Parkside?
Everything! Throughout my career, I have mostly worked in co-ed settings and so I had to evaluate how to get the best out of the boys in an all-boys environment. I love working with them – they possess an energetic appreciation and we know what makes boys tick. I have a very privileged responsibility and have the most motivated and like-minded team I’ve ever worked with. We are never afraid to roll our sleeves up so that the boys have the best education and preparation for Senior School. Also, our grounds are incredible; it is amazing to walk around and appreciate the seasonal changes, which we make sure we share with the boys. They learn outdoors as much as possible and enjoy outdoor sport and activities such as wellbeing walks.
When I was growing up one of my favourite series of books was Swallows and Amazons and I’m proud to say that Parkside’s likeness to it has been noticed by many visitors – it’s a beautiful school and a very special place.

What are the greatest challenges of your role?
I don’t feel there are challenges as such, I’m so passionate about getting it right. I’m determined to do the best for ‘my’ boys and I want to teach them about being a really good person. At Parkside, we go way beyond kindness (kindness is a given) and, happily, the boys are very responsive to this. I want to ensure the whole school community has time for one another and that they really understand the true meaning of appreciation, gratitude and family. My aim is for the boys to learn the satisfaction of working hard for what they achieve.

What do you most enjoy about your job?
I thrive on knowing that I really make a difference, as I watch these boys develop into well-rounded, excited, driven young men, who hold themselves with respect. I’m proud to have shifted the focus from judging the boys on exam results, to refining their social intelligence and that your respect for yourself and others is what gets you through in life. For example, we have established close links with a local old people’s home, so that the boys learn to value and respect everybody. It’s charming to hear their stories when they return from a visit, but also the feedback from the home about how much these visits benefit the residents.
My whole mantra is ‘make it happen’ and I’m determined to pass that on to the boys.

What are you looking forward to?
Christmas! I absolutely love it and we go all out with a wonderful tree and decorations. We also host a fantastic Christmas fair along with many other festive events. It is a time for our whole community to join as a family, to soak up the atmosphere. I do hope the tradition stays with the boys long after they’ve left the school as we encourage a huge amount of social interaction and an appreciation of the magic Christmas brings.

Explore what Parkside School has to offer at parkside-school.co.uk

A few of Nicole’s favourites
Book: I go back to Dickens again and again. I like to revisit the classics because I find that I still learn things from them, even though I have read the before.
City: I’ve had the most fantastic time in San Francisco. The whole history and the kaleidoscope of different experiences, the diversity, it’s magical. Christmas there is out of this world.
Song: I love the musicality of Purple Rain, it’s so powerful.

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