susan hardman Head of English as an Additional Language, VI Tutor, International Student Forum Coordinator
I started teaching at Merchiston in August 2015. Prior to that I had been working at Basil Paterson College, Edinburgh with V and VI Form pupils. I had never worked in a boarding school previously. It is a unique environment and I can relate to the international boys who have also never experienced this before.
I have spent a number of years living and working abroad and fully appreciate the challenges of adapting to a culture and actually living in a new country. Italy was the first country I lived in and will always be special for that reason. I then spent 3 years living and teaching English in Asia - in Japan and Taiwan - amazing places, with incredible food and people.
Merchiston is special. There is a strong community; a sense of we are in this together. I enjoy the combined sense of purpose - working with the boys and colleagues to achieve goals.
It’s a busy place and it needs to be to keep these energetic boys occupied and stimulated. I’m always surprised at how fast the school day goes - the pace makes the job and the school very dynamic.
I really enjoy the atmosphere in the EAL classroom of bringing boys together from different nationalities. It’s great to see them working together in their shared language of English. It’s particularly satisfying when they go on holiday to stay with each other in Germany and Hong Kong for example: they are forming international links for the future and who knows what opportunities this will lead to.
I attend weekly Italian conversation classes to keep my base level of Italian going. It also reminds me of the challenges the international boys face when learning a language.
Being classroom-based for so much of the week, it is great to escape into the Pentlands or to East Lothian on a Sunday for a hike in the hills or along the coast.
I also enjoy cooking - Thai food is one of my favourites.
One of the roles I most enjoy about my job at Merchiston is working in Laidlaw North as a VI Form Tutor where I have the opportunity to really get to know my tutees. UCAS is a highlight for me, supporting boys in their university choices and applications and tackling the challenge of personal statements. It’s very rewarding when the boys achieve their university goal and start down their potential career path.