Staff Articles | Scots College
Scots College New Zealand

Staff Articles


Matt Jarry, Head of Arts Department

Matt Jarry

Matt Jarry

Tell us a little about your teaching career and in particular your time at Scots so far.
I trained in Canada and came to NZ in 2007 for a bit of an adventure. Thought I’d be a relief teacher for a bit then off to some other part of the world. Trained in Canada in Social Studies/History as there was not much for arts teachers and upon arriving got my first job teaching Art History, Art, English, and Technology…I’ve also taught Media Studies. Went back to university for Postgrad studies in Visual Arts in 2013, which was probably the best thing I could have done as it gave me the confidence to get where I’m at today.

Around Term 4 of last year the job came up for HoD Art and I couldn’t resist as I felt ready to lead a department and put my stamp on something. Since coming to Scots it has been a big learning experience, especially teaching MYP and the whole IB package. It’s been such a good shift for me coming to Scots as the staff, students and College community are really great and hugely supportive and appreciative of the work everyone here puts in.

What do you like most about your job?
A few things. One is working with teenagers, they’re hard work and can be immensely frustrating at times, but equally they’re really fun to work with and enjoy a good laugh. I love the fact that I teach Art and can help students see success in the subject. I also like teaching shortcuts and how to cheat. By this I mean how to speed up a technique or process, to make the work happen with greater ease. The boys say it’s cheating, I just tell them it’s about making art accessible.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
One time I was really upset about making what I considered to be a poorly made decision. I talked with my grandfather about the choice I had made and he asked me if I could live with the decision I made, to which I said yes. He said, “Then son, you’ve made a good decision.

If you weren’t a teacher, what other career path would interest you?
Being an Artist or being involved with the art world in some way.

What part of your job do you find the most challenging?
Assessment driving curriculum. I find that too often we worry too much about assessing and measuring and categorising. I think assessment is important but it shouldn’t be the motivation for learning a subject. Also emails…too many emails.

Claire Hall, Glasgow House Dean, Learning Area Coordinator – The Arts & teacher of Art History & English

Claire Hall

Claire Hall

Tell us a little about your teaching career and in particular your time at Scots so far
I started teaching in 1988 at New Plymouth Girls’ High School. The original plan was a six week relieving position but I ended up staying there for twenty three and a half years! While there I was Dean of Years 9 and 13, I taught Art History and English and I was Head of Health. I also directed many Stage Challenges and we won the National Title three times which was amazing!

I came to Scots at the start of 2010 because my husband Geoff was appointed to the Director of Boarding role. For the first few years I taught RE and Leadership. I wrote our Year 11 and 12 Leadership programmes and set up and ran the first three Launching Leaders Conferences. I have been Learning Area co-ordinator of the Arts since 2012 and became Glasgow Dean at the end of 2013.

What do you most like about your job?
I love teaching! It is so rewarding when you can switch kids on to a subject. Lots of students start units pretty negative about a novel, or Macbeth or Botticelli’s paintings so it’s great when you can help them discover new ideas, understanding or even a whole new world that they didn’t know anything about. I love art history, the arts in general and literature so opening those doors for students is wonderful. The very best bit of teaching is seeing boys grow in confidence and focus and commitment and finish the year a better version of the boy they were at the start.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
Care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, expect more than others think is possible.

If you weren’t a teacher, what other career path would interest you?
For years I aspired to be Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian super gymnast but representing Taranaki was my limit! My dream job would be Dame Susie Moncrieff’s. Her achievement in founding WOW and making it the phenomenon it is, is really remarkable. I’d also love to be a writer or a florist.

What part of your job do you find most challenging?
The biggest challenge of teaching for me occupies a huge amount of my thinking – how do you motivate students to do their very best? I hate the idea of boys walking out of the Plimmer Gates at the end of the year having under-achieved. After 28 years of teaching I’m still searching for the magic way to make sure this doesn’t happen. When boys really push themselves to be the best they can be it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of, but unfortunately too many boys aim way too low and settle for mediocrity, or worse, when they have the ability and opportunity to achieve and be so much more. 

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