Meet Jessica Stevenson, Principal
How did you get into teaching?
I completed a degree in Theatre Design at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and thought I would pursue a career in Drama in Education. After that, I trained as an Art Teacher, which encouraged me to become passionate about teaching. As my career progressed, I was promoted and became interested in Education Leadership, so I took a Masters Degree in this at The University of Nottingham. I haven’t looked back since, as I feel teaching is the perfect career for me.
Why did you decide to start teaching at a UTC?
I was drawn to the UTC as it has a liberating and dynamic philosophy, which is rooted in the needs of students and the wider workplace. I felt passionate to help shape well rounded and highly skilled professionals, through a dynamic and interesting curriculum. I worked as a Senior Leader for many years and the UTC resonated with my educational philosophy. This role was an exciting next step in my career, and I have enjoyed being a Principal here since January 2020.
What interests you about your area?
The unifying factor about my career is a love of creativity and innovation. And whilst at a cursory glance you would not think our UTC’s specialisms are directly relevant to this, to excel in any profession, you need not only technical expertise but creativity, divergent thinking and so many other ‘softer’ skills. What excites me about my role is being able to ensure all my students can achieve this, through subjects and areas of interest they are passionate about. We are not just making employees of the future, my students will shape the future.
What is the most enjoyable thing about teaching your subject?
Always the students! Seeing their success, especially for those for whom the journey was not an easy one. I love watching the students progress their ideas, their innovation and passion for what they do, as it’s so rewarding.
What projects do the students enjoy the most?
The students love the projects in which they get to see the relevance of their work. They enjoy hands-on projects, where they are able to learn something new and develop their skills. They want to complete challenging tasks that they can be proud of, where they can stand back and say ‘I did that’.
What are the benefits of studying at a UTC?
There are so many benefits, including a freedom to study what is right for the individual in their specialist pathway, with industry qualifications, running alongside a more traditional curriculum. Studying at a UTC is unique, as students are given the opportunity to gain experience of industry, which isn’t always available in mainstream schools. It’s great studying at a small school with a friendly atmosphere, and students get high quality instructions from expert staff.
What has been your highlight of working at a UTC?
I have only been here for several months but have come to quickly love my job. The highlight so far has been getting to know the students on a personal level. I am saddened that the current situation has made this difficult; however, I remain optimistic about the future and am confident tackling any challenges that I may face.
What are your goals for the UTC?
My ambition is that the school becomes one of the best in the country. I am keen for the students we serve to go out to achieve excellence and shape the future workplace. I have already worked closely with staff to make the curriculum even more dynamic and relevant to the world of work. My plan is to build further on the employer links and ensure that students who attend UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park have an employer experience that is second to none.
What are your quarantine top tips?
I would advise staff members and student to take each day as it comes and achieve what you can. It’s important to find time to relax at the end of the day and to focus on one task at a time.
How are you staying motivated during lockdown?
I think I am lucky coming into work as it has kept me very busy, which means I have not lost momentum. I have two young children at home and they do not allow me time to stop. It’s good to keep busy and set yourself goals for each day, however big or small they may be.