What do you consider your greatest achievement?
A big achievement in my teaching career was receiving the International School Award, which was founded on the children's global awareness and required their understanding of the world - from Cornwall to all parts of the globe, which of course included an appreciation of the diaspora. Aren't we so lucky to have Heartlands on our doorstep? On a day to day basis in school, I aspire to 'reach out' to all the children - and their families too, to secure their positive engagement and involvement in the wider school family. It might only seem like a small thing, but to hear a parent say that their child has now 'awoken' to school life with confidence and self-esteem, or that the parent now truly feels involved, is a small achievement - but on the way to much bigger things. It is also really important to achieve a ‘balance’ – living your life in harmony with your family and friends. For me, that meant giving up my job and concentrating on bringing up my young children. I fully understand that not all mothers can or want to make that choice, but I know that it was right for me and I was blessed with the support I enjoyed from my family whilst my husband was at sea.
What motivates you to do what you do?
There is no greater motivation to teach than the challenge that each child brings you – how can I inspire this child to achieve their potential? Teaching is undoubtedly a vocation, not a '9 to 5 job', and as I now approach my last few years in the profession, I am as passionate as I was 30 years ago - as no child ever gets a 'second childhood'. Hopefully, I can also share my experiences with the younger teachers in the schools and help them be as inspirational as they can be.
What do you owe your mother?
If it wasn’t for my mother, Joyce, I would not be a teacher today! Every time I doubted myself at St Luke’s or in my early days as a junior teacher, she would always encourage me to ‘stick at it’ as she could see I had the potential – even when I couldn’t! My mother sadly passed away last year but I admired her so much; she lost her mother when she was only 3 years old, but remained loyal and cared for her step-mother for decades. I can only dream of matching that commitment, perhaps that's what has driven me to care so much for the children in my care.
Which women inspire you and why?
Mother Theresa and Diana, Princess of Wales. They were very different in status, monetary wealth and material possessions, but they both had ‘the common touch’ – that ability to engage with any other person, no matter what their background or circumstances, in a way that made them feel comfortable, supported, valued and loved.
What are you reading?
Victoria Hislop's "The Island" really resonates with me - the heroine wants to find out more about her mother and her travels take her to the island of Spinalonga, the old leper colony off Crete, which I hope to visit in October. I think we are so busy today, with our focus on social media 'feeds', that we can forget to make time - for ourselves, to relax and re-charge our batteries - and our family.
What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?
Very few at work, as female teachers make up the majority of the profession here in Cornwall. Perhaps that’s why I was easily able to refresh my training and knowledge as a teacher and return to the profession after 7 years ‘out’ of the classroom bringing up my two boys. I wish more jobs had such well-designed and signposted routes back to work for mothers.
How can the world be made a better place for women?
We should not be bombarded with what the ‘perfect’ woman looks like, or how great her career is, or how ‘wonderful’ her house or family are! We are all unique, some of us are sisters and mothers as well, but we are all daughters and we are all individuals. We should have the self-confidence and esteem to be happy in our bodies, our families, our jobs, our homes.
Describe your perfect day?
That’s easy! A morning swim at high tide at Point, lying in the calm waters, letting the sun shine on to my face, whilst I reflect on all the blessings we enjoy living in Cornwall and take a moment to remember those who are not with us now. Then, a walk around the Cathedral, such a haven of peace and tranquility – there is always something new to see. I love the way the Cathedral wraps itself around the older St Mary’s Church – that’s how I would like to be thought of as a mother. A short car journey would take me to the King Harry Ferry – is there a more stunning crossing, anywhere? – and on to the Roseland Peninsular. Another (!) swim at St Mawes (you can tell I am a Pisces!) followed by a drink with my husband and two boys looking over Carrick Roads. Returning home, my boys would have the braai ready (they’ve both been to South Africa and brought that BBQ-type tradition back to Cornwall) and we would sit and relax in the garden, whilst enjoying another great Cornish sunset.
We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?
Our Cornish heritage is mining, fishing and agriculture. I would love to see the female role in that legacy reflected with statues of Bal Maidens, Fisherwomen and Farmers’ wives – they are captured in paintings and old photographs, but not statues. Yes, our parents’ generation can remember them as living people, but those personal memories are literally dying now. We should celebrate the role of women in the history of the Duchy before the memories fade like the photographs and become forgotten.
Give us a tip?
From my Mother (and John Wesley!) I try to: 'Do All The Good You Can, To All The People You Can' but my tips to young people are - Seize The Moment and Be The Best You Can!
Wendy Teasdale, nee Holland, was born in her parents' house in Truro in March 1962. Her father remembers there being so much snow on the ground that the midwife struggled to get to Bodmin Road and he was needed to help deliver the baby! Wendy went to her local primary and secondary schools and studied her "A"-levels at the Grammar School before going to St Luke's Teacher Training College in Exeter. Her initial teaching jobs were in Suffolk but she was always keen to return to the Duchy and was thrilled to be offered a job to teach in Torpoint. Whilst living in Plymouth, Wendy met and married her Naval Officer husband, Mark, just before he sailed for the first Gulf War, complete with his new 'Cornish Passport'! With Mark away so much, Wendy took a seven year career break to look after her two sons, Ben and Sam, before they started full time learning and she felt able to return to teaching. An 18 year stint then followed at Archbishop Benson School in Truro - amazingly located on Bodmin Road, barely 100yards from where she was born: how the wheel turns! This 'return to her roots' must have energised Wendy as she drove the Archbishop Benson to International School Status, receiving the prestigious award from George Alagiah in London. Her “Arts Week” became the highlight of the summer terms, with guest visitors such as local artist Lamorna Penrose and the BGT dance group FLAVA. Wendy was asked by Cornwall County LEA to share her teaching skills, acting as the Key Stage 1 Moderator for the County, ensuring that common teaching standards and marking ‘norms’ were delivered across the Cornwall. Wendy really was the "Go To" teacher for help and professional advice. Wendy is hugely passionate about inclusion in the widest sense and developed her Community Cohesion programme in 2011, keeping at alive and 'up to date' with the latest projects such as the "Who Am I’ initiative. For many years, Wendy has been a key-note speaker to the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) students in their Induction Week, and sits on the SCITT Graduation Board. Wendy recently joined the staff at Perran-Ar-Worthal CP school, to be close to where she lives in Carnon Downs.