Performing arts tutor learns to take the lead
When Mary Atkinson moved to Hong Kong six and a half years ago from the UK with her Chinese husband, she joined Kids’ Gallery because she was passionate about teaching and art. She tells Wong Yat-hei that after being introduced to teaching young children, she worked her way up to become head of department for Early Learners.
What is your academic background?
I studied performing arts and did a degree in contemporary dance.
How do you start your day?
I teach different classes every day. I sometimes have meetings with my department and other business units to present new projects, ideas and initiatives.
What does your job entail?
I came to Kids’ Gallery to be a performing arts teacher, but my direction changed when I started teaching classes within the Early Learners department. These classes crossed subjects such as movement, singing and painting. As my experience grew I was given the opportunity to plan and organise larger projects for the Early Learners department. After gaining experience of more leadership, planning and organisational roles, I was offered the position of head of department.
Besides teaching, I am in charge of curriculum development, supervising staff, dealing with customers and much more.
What major challenges have you encountered so far?
Taking on more leadership and management roles has been a challenge since this is new to me. I have to manage my time properly to be able to handle different duties in teaching, decision-making, planning and organisation.
Hong Kong is a growing market for teaching. Since coming here I have seen more schools and centres opening that offer similar courses. It has been important to maintain and improve our standards and seek new opportunities.
Learning to work with children of different ages, understanding their various behaviours and dealing with different customer needs have also been a challenge.
What are your plans?
I plan to keep on strengthening the Early Learner department by further developing my expertise within early childhood education and gaining further professional qualifications.
What advice can you give those interested in the industry?
A good teacher should try to gain as much experience as possible across a wide range of age groups. They should constantly research the subjects that they are teaching to keep their knowledge up to date. They should also be innovative in providing new business ideas to meet the current demands of the market.