From Engineering to Education: Introducing Angela Speirs, our new kindergarten principal
In life our passion can often lead to unexpected paths, reshaping the course of our future. For Angela Speirs, after completing her engineering degree, she realised that she needed to be in a profession that stimulated both the artistic and scientific facets of her brain. Working with children during her university projects ignited her passion for developing young minds. Driven by this newfound purpose, Angela made a bold career change from engineering to education. 30 years later, Angela is still passionate about educating young learners so they are ready to face the challenges of tomorrow.
We recently talked to Angela about her educational journey, her plans for the upcoming school year, and got some advice on how parents can help their child transition smoothly into the new school year.
Welcome to CIS, Angela! Tell us a little more about yourself.
I am originally from Scotland although I have not lived there for many years. I have a son, Robbie, who grew up as a third culture kid studying in 3 different countries—he is currently away from home pursuing his undergraduate studies in Amsterdam. In my spare time I enjoy travelling, scuba diving, latin dancing and singing.
I am an engineering graduate but after a short stint working in industry, I realised that my passion lay elsewhere. I chose to return to university to become a primary teacher. Over the past 30 years I have worked in Greece, Indonesia, Thailand, China and most recently, in Cuba. I have been an elementary/early years principal for 19 years.
What are you looking forward to as our new kindergarten principal?
The new kindergarten wing at CIS offers a wonderful learning environment for students and I am eager to work together with a very strong team to continue to build and enhance the programme for our young learners. I am also very much looking forward to building relationships with the entire community.
Tell us about your past experiences working with young children and how they have influenced your approach to early childhood education?
I was a kindergarten teacher for 13 years and have worked as an Early Years leader in several schools. In line with CIS’ philosophy, I strongly believe in the importance of play, exploration and inquiry in order to support our children as they learn to make sense of their world. I believe that the skill of a good Early Years teacher lies in their ability to create an engaging, nurturing and safe environment where children can experience the joy of learning.
Exposing students to visual arts, music, dance and the wonder of nature are extremely important in developing all of the senses of our young learners. In the words of Loris Malaguzzi (early childhood theorist), “Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colours”.
What are your goals for the 2023-24 school year?
I hope to continue building community spirit post-pandemic by reintroducing events, and collaborating with teachers and parents to further expand the kindergarten arts programme by presenting larger scale musical drama performances.
What tips do you have for parents to help their little ones settle into a new school year?
Starting school for the first time or even returning from a long vacation can be daunting for small children - and their parents. We encourage all new families to attend the new family orientation sessions before the school year starts to help familiarise your children with their school environment and their new teachers.
Otherwise, the CIS website has excellent videos and images featuring the teachers and learning spaces which you could share and discuss with your children to put their minds at ease. Children’s literature is also a wonderful way to broach the subject of change and transition. Some good titles include “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn and “Look out Kindergarten, Here I Come” by Nancy Carlson.
We understand that children react differently to transition, you can rest assured that we are here to help you and your child throughout the process.
Thank you for your time, Angela! We are excited to welcome you to the CIS community.