A former Theale Green School pupil is realising a childhood dream to become a teacher – at the very same school she studied at!

Crystal Campbell, 20, left Theale Green School as a pupil in June 2022, but returned eight months later in February 2023 as a Learning Mentor to those students in need of a bit of extra support.

Now Crystal is on track to becoming a fully-fledged teacher with training and support from the school. She has recently been put in charge of running the school’s fabulous new gym, which opened to students this September with state-of-the-art equipment, as well as supporting the many students undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh programme.

“I always wanted to be a teacher, but never thought I could do it. It’s only because I was encouraged to apply by Charlotte Badarello (Head of School) and Jo Halliday (former Principal) when I went back to collect my exam results. I wasn’t sure I’d have the skills to support the students but they saw something in me I maybe didn’t see in myself and said ‘apply, you’ll be good at it’.”

Crystal has thrived in her Learning Mentor role, garnering praise from her colleagues – her former teachers of course! Has that been weird for her, making the transition from student to staff?

“Yes, it’s been a very strange transition because there wasn’t much of a gap between being a student to staff, which meant that quite a lot of the students in the older years knew me as a student. I’ve had to adapt and so have the students – there’s a professional barrier now so we can’t be having a chit chat about what they did on the weekend.

“But because I’m so young I feel like it’s a bit easier for them to come talk to me as I can relate to them, and of course when I’m in lessons with them it wasn’t so long ago I was doing it myself so that really helps with the support I can give them.

“The teachers have been really welcoming – they’re very supportive, especially if any issues come up, like if you haven’t been able to get through to a student. And the training has been great – I had a mentor I shadowed to start off with before starting on the Learning Mentor role, and since then I’ve had many different opportunities to adapt and go forward.”

Crystal has just been appointed manager of the school’s new gym – the Fitness Zone – where she works in the afternoons as a fitness instructor and giving safety advice. She was told about the role last year and given the opportunity to do a PT and fitness instructor course, funded by the Opening Schools Facilities Fund, for which the school was kindly recommended by Get Berkshire Active. She jumped at the chance to do this, having always been sporty herself – she played every sport and fixture while a student, and helped with the young ambassadors events and was a West Berkshire Sports Mentor too.

Going forward, Crystal hopes to carry on with her training at Theale Green School and become a qualified teacher.

“I want to do it more than ever – I’ve seen now the positives of when you have a student who’s had a bad day, you’ve sat them down, you’ve given them a pep talk and then they go to a lesson which normally doesn’t go too well for them and they’ve absolutely smashed it. That’s real job satisfaction. I’m loving it here and at the moment I don’t think I’d ever want to teach in another school!”

Crystal is certainly an inspiration to the many students with ambition who might feel daunted by their dream job, feeling they ‘can’t do it’.

“I never thought I’d be doing this but hopefully the older students especially see that I’ve come back doing what I want to do. I tell them you’ve got to have self-belief – just go for it!”

We’re so proud of Crystal, who truly is a living example of the school’s mission to Transform Lives Through Learning.

Head of School Charlotte Badarello sums up: “I, and the entire community at Theale Green School, am enormously proud of Crystal and all that she has achieved, and is achieving.  She is someone who has embraced opportunities and strived to be the best version of herself, embodying our school values of Hard Work, Respect and Progress.  We’re delighted with our new Fitness Zone and know that Crystal will be a critical component in its success, and the future success of the school.”