I’ll put it out there, I have ALWAYS admired Mr. Sam Parker and I say this genuinely. He was one of the 1st people who befriended me when I got my 1st job in the UK at Boundary Mill or maybe it was the fact that he made fun of my accent incessantly. Either way, you couldn’t help but like him; warm, witty and welcoming and did I mention a massive Burnley FC fan? Yup, that too. I look back fondly on major football banter and his unmatched film knowledge. One of the reasons we began RnR Interviews is because sometimes you know someone, but you don’t really KNOW them, well, I have low key always held a warm place in my heart for him and this interview only helped to make me feel so so very proud of him. To call him a friend gives me great pride and it’s also made me realise that as both our families have grown, we are desperately due for a catch up soon. Read on and see what I mean!
Q: What is the tone/sound of your alarm clock?
A: I have a Samsung Galaxy S9 and have the tone “Morning Glory”
Q: Morning person or night owl?
A: Definitely a night owl. I cannot go to bed without watching something. Usually The Office! Because the day is so hectic, sometimes it’s my time to unwind and reflect on the day while being able to have something easy on in the background.
Q: What’s your fave quote?
A: “If it were easy then everyone would be doing it.” My mum always says this to me and it’s so true. It just encourages me to work hard for what I want and to achieve my goals.
Q: Sandals or Sneakers?
Q: Your word for the year
A: Hmmm….tough one. Either dilapidated or proprietor. Both have been used with my class when looking at Mary Poppins by PL Travers and when having to create a murder mystery when examining Cluedo. This answer could change every week to be fair!
Q: What’s the last picture you took?
A: My son (Finley) after he had been dried. At the point of taking the photo, he pulled a shocked face and looked really cute.
Q: What book would you recommend?
A: I’m currently reading, “How I wish I’d taught Maths” by Craig Barton which has helped me. It’s sort of free CPD! The last fiction that I read was The Tattooist of Auschwitz which was both horrific but interesting in an incredibly eerie way.
Q: Countryside or beach?
A: Countryside. The beach is just a pain getting the sand out of my shoes after. With the countryside in the local area, it’d be criminal if I said anything different.
Q: One fun fact about you.
A: I am cast to play Buttons in Cinderella in 2020. Rehearsals start in September and I’m so excited to reprise my role as the village idiot with my pants family. The shows are usually amazing (if I may say so myself) and the buzz you get from being on stage is something that is very difficult to describe.
Q: Electronic or paper calendar?
A: Electronic. It has helped me so much with work. The amount of screen time people have nowadays means that I see it every day.
Q: Most used emoji?
Q: Fave flower.
Q: Savoury or sweet?
A: Savoury. Sausage rolls, pies…I’m truly northern!
Q: Favourite Animal?
A: Tiger. I find them to be majestic looking and I love the way they camouflage into the reeds when hunting their prey.
Q: Fave artists.
A: I am old school and love Green Day, Blink 182, The Killers as well as my guilty pleasure, Busted! If I were to say anything that is more modern, I’m currently really liking Lewis Capaldi.
Q: Fave season.
A: Summer, everything and everyone seems happier in the sunshine
Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
A: Anything that was Goosebumps. I remember every few weeks I would go down to a store called “Badger Books” and my mother would let me choose one. The first I read was The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight and then I was hooked. It definitely gave me a love of reading.
Q: How would you describe your fashion style?
A: I’d say safe. I wear whatever is comfortable and if I am honest, I’m not too much of a fashion icon. I consider buying from Next as being a treat.
Q: What do you do to relax?
A: Obviously spend time with my family but when it is just me I tend to go to the gym, swim or play football. As cliche as it sounds, Football does make me forget about everything for that period of time.
Q: What’s your most favourite place, you’ve travelled?
A: I recently went to Brussels and was blown away by the architecture and diversity that the city had to offer. Liverpool is another favourite of mine and I have many happy memories there.
Q: Which element best represents you?
A: Hmmm…I’d say water as I feel I stick to tasks and goals long enough to “wear them down” like erosion.
Q: How would you spend an ideal day?
A: Currently I’d say it’d be a walk with my family while stopping off for some lunch on a sunny day. These are few and far between due to living in Burnley and the town’s weather and also due to the demands of my job.
Q: What are you most thankful for?
A: Having a son who is healthy. Recent events have made me appreciate what I have. My niece is currently being treated for osteosarcoma and is in a very bad way at the moment. Unfortunately I’ve had to visit the children’s cancer ward with two separate relatives in the past 2 years. Seeing those children who are so ill and who haven’t done anything for this terrible disease to grip hold of them was devastating. Good health is what I am very grateful for. It’s made me realise what is important in life.
Q: Current role model
A: My mum and my sister. Both are incredibly strong emotionally and mentally. It’s amazing the adversity they have both gone through and yet they do anything to help anyone else. They are truly inspirational not just to me but to everyone.
Q: What causes you anxiety?
A: I’ve always been a worrier but I’d say work, specifically failure. In a job where performance is scrutinised by those who do not work in the sector and league tables are published based on results, it definitely creates anxiety over whether or not you can achieve the goals laid down in front of you. The feeling I’ve let people down or will let people down really does keep me awake at night. I know I work my best but sometimes your best does not get the results required.
Q: If I could grant you one wish, what would it be?
A: Again, I would have to help my fellow teachers out. I’d wish for education to be in a much better position than it is. I am fortunate as the team I work with are great and my bosses look after me but I know of other schools where this isn’t the case. Unfortunately, teachers are not recognised for what they are and what they do by our government. It’s a scary time for anyone associated with education as nobody can foresee what is on the horizon. Ofsted inspections, in my opinion, have put unnecessary pressure on teachers and children. We live in a results driven industry. In some instances, consistently poor results can result in people losing their job. These results don’t always reflect the children. A child may score poorly but they may also have ripped jumpers, trousers and a hole in their shoes and may not ever feel loved or safe. SAT tests don’t measure things like this.
Q: What 3 things bring(s) you joy?
A: Hearing Finley laugh has to be number one. The feeling that I have had a family weekend and been able to help out as much as I can as Finley’s mum is incredible and does so much during the week while I’m working. The final one I’d have to say is feeling that I’ve performed well whether it be my job, at the gym, or playing football but I am intrinsically motivated and very competitive!
Q: When was the last time you meditated/prayed?
A: Working in a Church of England school, we pray twice a day at least. I wouldn’t class this as praying myself. I uphold the Christian values of the school but I do not pray in my private life as I have no religious affiliation and would consider myself an atheist.
Q: Would you say your religion is central in your life?
A: No. Although I can see the benefit of religious values and the morals they try to teach, I am an atheist and would not consider myself religious.
Q: Can you recall a pivotal moment when your faith/belief helped you deal with something in your life?
A: This is a tough one as I suppose it depends on what you define as faith or belief. Religious faith or belief? I wouldn’t be able to recall. Faith or belief in people or a system or even a plan? Yes. As previously mentioned, cancer has had a grip on my family recently and I can recall being sat at home after seeing my nephew in hospital after having lost his hair and being very ill because of the chemotherapy. I was devastated with what was happening and felt an enormous sense of helplessness. As I sat and pondered and wanted to do anything to help, I decided to set a charity football match. The event became quite big and we raised £6,000+. We had local businesses, friends and family all helping on the day and received donations through the post from people we had never met and that had never met Luca before (some as far as Scotland). It confirmed my belief in human beings and kindness. The news reports on all the badness and scary things in the world but we are surrounded by selfless people. It was poignant. On the day, after the game and everyone was in the clubhouse taking part in the raffle, I was stood in the corner of the room alone and just took a moment to pat myself on the back and acknowledge that I was good for the world.
Q: What would you like your legacy to be?
A: I want to be remembered as someone who changed lives. In my line of work, some children come from difficult situations and sometimes just being able to make them smile and talk to them might just be the one thing that gets them through the day. Adults are no different!
Q: Describe yourself in one word.
Q: If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be?
A: A sporting icon of mine is Muhammad Ali and I guess I’d be inclined to say him. He was one of the first people who chose to use his, and sacrifice, his sporting accolades for a cause much greater than he was.
Q: What is one thing you would like to overcome/conquer?
A: Anxiety for sure.
Q: What do you see when you look in the mirror?
A: I see me. I am proud of who I am and what I’ve achieved so far and sometimes when I look in the mirror once I’m changed I feel pride that the 5 years of night classes and university paid off. When I am holding Finley before putting him to bed, I am proud that I see a Dad putting his son to bed.
Q: What advice would you give anyone who is struggling with embracing their uniqueness?
A: Are you a kind person? If so then nothing else matters. If you are a kind person then nobody who matters will care about anything else.
Q: What relationship advice would you give?
A: Accept help. My fiancé has been a rock for me and she encourages me to talk about things. Some things she can help with and others she can’t but it definitely helps to share the problem.
Q: What made you become a teacher?
A: Children. I have always enjoyed working with children. I was a football coach at 17 for Burnley Football Club in the Community and it was something I knew I had a talent for. Not necessarily the coaching, but the inspiring children and speaking to them on their level. It wasn’t until I met Rhiannon (my fiancé) that I began to believe that I could achieve this. I was working at Boundary Mill when my headteacher as a child came in to buy some shoes. He said I was wasted and should get in touch. I did and two months later after volunteering on my days off from Boundary Mill, I was offered a job as a teaching assistant which led me to where I am today. Luck played a part but hard work, sacrifice and support were what led me to where I am now in my career.
Q: Do you ever struggle with being “too” open on social media?
A: No. Social media for me is to receive my rush of dopamine by receiving likes for something funny I’ve posted. I very rarely speak of personal issues I’m having. In my opinion, people have much worse to deal with than I have and sometimes you don’t even realise it’s people who are close to you who are struggling the most.
Q: How has your life changed now that you have become a father?
A: Less sleep! In all seriousness, I suppose having to prioritize. Prior to having Finley, I would bring my work home with me and work until late whereas now, my stance is that if it isn’t done by 5:30 pm then it can wait. I want to come home and be a dad, not be a teacher. Its hard to fully switch off. Even in the holidays, it can take a few days before I am fully in holiday mode. Having him has definitely filled a void I didn’t know I had.
Q: If you could give Finley advice to live his best life, what would you wish for him?
A: Do your best, be your best and be proud. His mother and I would both agree that as long as he does these things, that he will go far in life. He may not be academical or sporty but he will go far in life if we are able to instill these values.
Q: What is something you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?
A: Over the last twelve months I’d say coming home from work at a sensible time and having family time. I really thought I’d struggle to do this and it was a genuine worry for me.
Q: What was something that was difficult for you at the beginning of the year, but is no longer difficult?
A: I’d say asking for help and talking about any issues I was having. I’ve been with my fiancé for 10 years and have only recently started to open up about things. I also went to the deputy head at my school and spoke about challenges I was facing and at one point just asked for help. I saw this as a weakness but the issue with mental health issues and work related stress is that I tend to have created a scenario, then a further scenario and before I know it, I’ve mentally handed my notice in and walked away. Having the discussion and asking for help did a few things. It made my employers aware and therefore they helped and reduced my workload. More importantly, it made going back to discuss smaller, or even more serious issues, so much easier because the reaction I received was so much nicer than the one I had imagined in my head.
Q: What was the most challenging thing for you this year? Or the last few years?
A: Seeing my niece in hospital has been horrendous. We have had at least 3 phone calls where I’ve had to drive to the hospital with the intention of saying goodbye. She still isn’t out of the woods and is very ill but I am confident that the doctors will be able to help her.
Q: What 3 most important things have you learned this year?
A: Things can be taken away so easily. Appreciate what you have. Laughter and smiling is infectious.
Q: What’s your most an important goal for this year?
A: To have quality family time in the holidays.
Q: How do you plan on achieving them?
A: Booking things in advance and making plans that I cannot get out of. Once something is booked then it has to be done! We bought a brand new tent so that we would take Finley camping so I know that we will be making memories as a family this year.
Q: Of the books, you read this year, which was your favourite and why?
A: Wonder by RJ Palacio. A fantastic read which is uplifting. The part from Justin’s perspective is brilliant and just highlights that not all disabilities can be seen.
Q: What do you love most about yourself?
A: I guess I love that I have the ability to make others laugh. It’s a dopamine fix for me but I genuinely get great satisfaction in making others smile. As said earlier, sometimes, someone could have had the worst day in the world and I could have helped them just for a brief moment and changed the trajectory of their day.