Mentor and Maths Teacher
DipEd Edgewood Teachers’ Training College
Year 9 Mentor and Maths teacher, Heather Stone grew up on a sugar farm in Zululand, North of Durban, South Africa. Her home was filled with constant chatter and laughter, with three younger brothers to run and play with. “My childhood was idyllic, we lived off the grid, with electricity provided by a generator for a few hours a day, a short time in the morning and a few hours at night.” Her family collected drinking water from a rainwater tank, hot water through a gas stove and had a paraffin fridge for their cooled food. Heather’s Father was passionate about playing polo, and encouraged all his children to form strong connections with horses. “We could ride horses before we were able to walk.”
At school, Heather adored studying Maths and Science, particularly Chemistry. She was a dedicated student, and found great joy in her classes. “The hardest part for me was acknowledging when I needed to ask for help. If I didn’t understand a concept immediately, I incorrectly associated this with a loss in my ability. Once I learned to reach out, my confidence grew immensely.”
Heather’s passion for teaching developed at a young age as she watched her three younger brothers struggle with their learning. “I wanted to be able to contribute to a student’s learning, whether in the form of teaching a lesson, working with a student one-on-one, or helping to maintain the learning environment.” Having watched her son go through Mentone Grammar as a student, graduating in 2010, Heather had always loved the School and its strong sense of community. So when the opportunity arose for a teaching position she jumped at it.
Her ongoing love of the School stems from the caring approach between individuals and working with committed staff who continually strive to strengthen the overall education experience. “Mentone Grammar provides so many opportunities beyond the mainstream academic subjects. Students are also supported through a strong mentor system. It provides young people with the assurance that there is someone who cares about them, lets them know that they matter and ensures they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges. It’s a safe environment for our students where they are supported, guided, and challenged in their personal growth and development whilst being encouraged to reach their potential.”
When reflecting on International Women’s Day (IWD), Heather does not think about necessarily being an inspiration to a generation, for her, it is about living her best life. “I want to be the best me, encouraging a solid moral compass, ensuring the people I come into contact with know they are valued, and are respectful of themselves and others. I am always inspired by my students and the excitement of learning or trying something new each day.”
For the next generation of female leaders, her advice is simple. “Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself and others with respect. Never underestimate how valuable you are. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Never stop learning. Strength often comes in simple ways like patience, enthusiasm, respectfulness, dedication, creativity, determination. Lead by inspiring others to be better people.”
For Heather, the one thing she would like to see changed for women and girls around the world is that all females are proud of who they are, embrace their gifts and talents, and use them in a positive way to benefit others.
In the wise words of Heather’s Grandmother; “Look outwards, not inwards. Look upwards, not downwards. Look forwards, not backward.”
Authors: Steph Kinnear and Katya Dunham