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Student stories - School's life

Spotlight on staff: Veronica Boughtwood

Described as an outstanding teacher of literature, Veronica Boughtwood also runs 11 debating teams and has a love of all things cultural. One of her students [Hope Sutherland] became the first from our school to attend The University of Oxford, one of the world’s leading universities.

How long have you been at ACG Parnell College?

I’m in my sixth year at the school. I trained in New Zealand, then lived in the UK for twelve years. It made sense to me to come to a school which offered the Cambridge curriculum as I had experience with UK exam boards and a little bit to do with the university application process over there.

Why did you become a teacher?

I was led by my love for literature. It was exciting for me to share that with students and still is. It’s a privilege to be able to talk about Shakespeare and writers I love, as a job. I love seeing students being switched on by that. They always remember those books that make an impact on them.

I also had an English teacher in seventh form who I loved and was inspired by. I remember being in his class thinking, if I was to become a teacher, I’d like to be a teacher like you.

What book should everyone read?

I’m torn between a classic like Wuthering Heights, and 1984. Those futuristic dystopian novels are so interesting and so important. I also love Margaret Atwood – everyone should read The Handmaid’s Tale. And Shakespeare. All students have to read some Shakespeare before they leave school – or see it.

What makes a good teacher?

Someone who is passionate about their subject and their students. When someone has the spark and curiosity for a subject, and just loves it, it’s the best thing, it’s contagious.

It’s also someone who knows their students as an individual, can give specific feedback and help them in the way they need to be helped.

I taught for a while at Pukekohe High School. It taught me a lot about relating to students on their level, where they’re at. Students come from different walks of life and need different ways to get inspired.

What is the best thing about being a teacher at ACG Parnell College?

This is a special school. It’s a place that engenders an energy and an interest for learning, a place where learning comes first. I’ve been at schools where students have been embarrassed if they’re smart. Here it’s the opposite.

At the same time, staff are very caring, it’s like a family. This helps our students not to get stressed out. It has a caring, community, family feeling, yet they’re still striving to do well. It’s amazing.

What do you get involved in outside the classroom?

At school I run debating. We have 11 teams now and their enthusiasm for it is incredible. Many of them want to go on to be lawyers, so it’s a useful way for them to learn how to form an argument.

I have nine nieces and nephews. It was family that brought me back to New Zealand. And I love theatre, film, all things cultural. I went several times to the Pop-Up Globe. That’s my passion.