Spotlight on three ISS teachers |15 October 2021
As part of Teacher’s Week and Teacher’s Day which was celebrated last week, Seychelles NATION shines a spotlight on three teachers at the International School Seychelles, located at Mont Fleuri.
International School Seychelles (ISS) is one of several private schools in Seychelles, catering to children aged from 3 years old up to 18 years (A-Level classes). It has 24 classes for primary level, 19 form groups in secondary school, just over 1,000 pupils and 140 teaching and non-teaching staff.
Lilian Furneau, Secondary English and History teacher and head of sixth form
‘Being a teacher is an honour because we get to work with young people’
Seychelles NATION: Tell us your story and what teaching means to you?
Lilian Furneau: I have been a teacher for 30 years, since 1991. I came to work in Seychelles in 1998 but since then I’ve come and gone, working in different International Schools around the world. It’s always wonderful to come back to Seychelles, at ISS, and find everything that I respect about ISS still intact: the children are still very passionate learners; the staff is dedicated with great expertise.
Being a teacher is an honour because we get to work with young people. It is the honour of setting young people on a path of discovery and learning, to support them to help them achieve the goals they have, to believe in young people, to respect them as individuals with different learning needs.
I think it is also about building great relationships and these are relationships of trust and respect. I like teaching my subjects, I teach English and History as well. The teaching that we do, particularly English, it’s about lifelong learning, wanting to read for the rest of your life, it’s about expressing yourself through poetry and things like that. I think it’s about opening the world. Our students here are very dedicated to Seychelles.
At my age, a lot of the students I taught previously are very grown up now; they might have studied abroad but they’ve come back to Seychelles because Seychelles is where their heart is. Our students are also globally-minded, very interested in world concerns. We have a current affairs class here for example where we discuss situations happening around the world. We want to create global citizens who can talk about the world and their own nation. We also have an eco-club which helps them appreciate sustainability in Seychelles and how they can protect their nation as well.
I first started off teaching in Egypt as an English language teacher and eventually I trained to be a mainstream secondary teacher in 1995.
Seychelles NATION: How do you see children nowadays?
Lilian Furneau: Children want to learn but I think they need structure, support, love and care. I think it’s important to create the right learning atmosphere in the classroom because there is a desire to learn and for knowledge. I think children want to be appreciated, to explore and be loved. It is the job of teachers and the whole school community to make sure that there is the correct learning environment at the school. One way we can do that is to have an inclusion policy and making that policy work with structures and strategies, and communicating with families.
Seychelles NATION: Do you see the same types of issues happening in public schools also popping at the ISS, such as bullying and so on?
Lilian Furneau: We are all human beings, we all have difficulties in life, we all react to those difficulties and I think that it’s about how to help young people when they have an issue in their lives they are trying to deal with. I don’t think that you can say that students here don’t have these issues, it might differ somehow but it’s all about the human experience. Young people should be able to trust that the adults will be there when they need them also.
Praxidis Olutwati, R2A class teacher
‘Children are excited by the same things and are all curious to learn’
Seychelles NATION: Tell us about yourself and what does teaching mean to you?
Praxidis Olutwati: I am from Kenya and have been teaching at the ISS for some three years now but I have been a teacher for the last six years. I love teaching because I think it is a great opportunity to transform children in holistic human beings because I always say that the definition of a genius should be someone who is physically fit, spiritually vital, mentally robust and socially comfortable. This is what I hope to achieve as a teacher and it reflects our school’s motto ‘We are born for the world and not for ourselves’.
Seychelles NATION: You are a class teacher for very young kids and teach children from all over the world, tell us about this dynamic.
Praxidis Olutwati: First of all, you must realise that all children are the same, they might develop differently or at different paces but they think the same way. They are excited by the same things and they are all curious to learn. So far it’s been a good experience.
It is very interesting to work with children and staff from diverse backgrounds and every day is a new day because you get to learn different things.
Seychelles NATION: Did you choose this profession or did it come by chance?
Praxidis Olutwati: To be honest, I did not want to become a teacher but in Kenya the government places you, so when the government gave me the opportunity to study for early childhood education, there was no turning back. This is what I want to do.
Elodie Vallantine, principal and head of secondary
‘Teachers’ Day is more than celebrating the teachers’
Seychelles NATION: What does Teacher’s Day mean for you?
Elodie Vallantine: Teachers’ Day for me is more than celebrating the teachers and all they do for the students; it is also about celebrating the non-teaching staff because most schools wouldn’t be able to function without the support staff helping. We are very keen as a school to make sure that our teachers, our TAs (teacher assistants), our cleaners, our admin staff, our drivers, our technicians celebrate it.
Seychelles NATION: Extracurricular activities are very important for the student development, what does ISS have to offer?
Elodie Vallantine: We have a large range of extracurricular activities and they are age-specific so programmes are different for primary and secondary. Some of the prominent things we do include the eco-school, the Duke of Edinburgh Award for the older students, also since last year we have been running the United Nations programme and we have a wide range of clubs to choose from ‒ games club, sports club, dance club […] Obviously at this time we are limited in what we can do but as soon as restrictions are lifted we will be looking forward to going back to our programmes and educational visits as well.
Vidya Gappy and Elsie Pointe