Home   News   Article

Highland Heroes: Vote for your Secondary Teacher of the Year

By Leah Williamson

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Flo Skinner and Chris Aitken have been shortlisted in this category.
Flo Skinner and Chris Aitken have been shortlisted in this category.

Chris Aitken, Wick High School

COMPUTING science teacher at Wick High School, Chris Aitken, certainly knows how to spark creativity in his pupils.

Mr Aitken and his pupils have regularly helped put the school on the map, having successfully competed in the Apps for Good project over several years, and developing a ‘light bike’ – a bike covered in LED lights to be visible on the road.

Other projects included creating a device for people without access to the internet to hear oral history interviews and reminiscences by building a computer inside an old-fashioned telephone with the recordings downloaded.

The device, created for local heritage group, Wick Voices, was so successful it has been on tour to numerous care homes and Mr Aitken has also been approached by Age Scotland so it can be rolled out across the country.

“The pupils helped with the build process and download of different recordings onto the phone and that phone is now on tour,” he said.

“It’s been so successful I’m in the process of building a second one and we’ve been approached by Age Scotland to expand that availability to all of Scotland so it’s been an incredible journey.”

And on the matter of incredible journeys, the teacher also spent five weeks in the jungles of Belize with pupils undertaking conservation work.

A nomination for Mr Aitken said: “He is a truly inspirational teacher who encourages his pupils to explore the practical applications of technology in a way that captures their imagination and makes learning fun. In doing so, he points the way to potentially rewarding and fulfilling careers.”

“Through Apps for Good, we made so many connections within the industry,” said Mr Aitken.

“Our pupils had access to experts including Spotify and Facebook – they all knew about Wick High School because of what we were doing.

“It was an incredible opportunity for our pupils coming from what is a remote and rural community and being on the lips of tech experts in London.

“You should not think you’re restricted because of your geography.

“Because of the internet, you have access to the entire world and that message came from the vice-president of Microsoft who visited us.”

Mr Aitken, a former pupil of Wick High School, added: “It’s only engaging if you make it engaging, exciting and relevant to pupils.

“I’m always looking at pushing creativity and making pupils proud of what they produce.

“I’m delighted to be recognised.

“It’s quite humbling to think that somebody thinks I’m doing a pretty good job.”

Vote here

Flo Skinner, Culloden Academy

THE luckiest pupils are the ones who, after leaving school, can remember a particular teacher who has made a positive, long-lasting impression on their lives.

Culloden Academy technology teacher, Flo Skinner, is one of those teachers.

A nomination praised the kindness and support she gives her pupils as well as helping to prepare them for life beyond school.

“Felicity Skinner is the teacher that pupils will remember. She went above and beyond to help my son.

He wasn’t having a great time at school but she saw his strengths and worked with him to develop these in the woodwork classroom.

“She gave him positive feedback so that he started to believe in himself and was able to see his own strengths. She was kind – at the heart of what she does as a teacher – she was just kind.

“Ms Skinner gave feedback about his progress and how pleased she was with his work. At this time in his life it was so good for him to hear that and it really boosted him. She helped him prepare for interviews and for an apprenticeship which he got.

“We will never forget her for her kindness and attention to understanding that building positive relationships within the classroom really helps students to be more ready to learn and to be more successful.

“Thank you Ms Skinner – you made a huge difference.”

Ms Skinner has been teaching at Culloden for three years where she takes classes in graphic design, woodwork and also construction, including bricklaying, joinery and plumbing.

She hopes to be seen as a role model for young women considering a career in the sector.

Surprised to hear of her nomination, Ms Skinner said: “I’m totally shocked, it took me by complete surprise. But I’m delighted.

“I love building relationships with pupils. It’s lovely seeing pupils grow into the young adults they become, helping pupils on their way into the world of work or apprenticeships. We sometimes get pupils popping back into school to tell us how they got on which is great.

“We do have a plus-one policy in the department so we can focus on any pupils that may be struggling. And by doing that, you’re bringing everyone else up because those resources help everybody, especially after Covid and everything the teenagers have been through.

“I’m also a mother and I think that comes through when I work with pupils, and the pastoral side of being a teacher.”

Vote here

Words from the category sponsor: David Palmer, managing director from Barratt and David Wilson Homes North Scotland, was delighted to support Highland Heroes.

“Teachers have such an important role to play in the lives of our young people, more so than ever before, and secondary school is a key period in a child’s development as they begin preparations for adult life beyond school.

“Teachers give so much more than lessons in class and exam preparation, and it is important that we give thanks to our amazing secondary school teachers for all that they do for our young people and their families.”

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More