Hotseat: Lynda Chmarny-Intaj

Meet teacher at American Academy in Al-Mizhar

Interview, Education
Interview, Education

Job title
Head of Student and Community Life and Performing Arts teacher at American Academy in Al-Mizhar.

Where did you go to school?
I went to several schools! I grew up in Hong Kong so went to Bradbury Junior School there, then in the UK I was at Oakham School, Queen Margaret’s School and Merchant Taylors School for Girls in Liverpool, my home city. After school, I went to Liverpool Hope University.

What was your favourite subject?
Performing arts of any kind! I love being involved in the process of play production but I am particularly fond of singing – either solo or in a group. I am so fortunate to be able to work with such a talented group of young ladies this year. We are doing some beautiful pieces and I get really excited when I know I am going to be teaching these classes the following day!

What was your least favourite?
Maths, by a long shot! It’s ironic because maths and music are so interlinked! I didn’t find it particularly interesting and still find it difficult to compute numbers in my head. Yes, I still count on my fingers on occasion and I am not ashamed to admit it!

Did you have a favourite teacher?
I really loved most of my teachers – I was so fortunate to be taught by people who were passionate about education and cared about their students. My Grade 3 teacher, Mrs Kirk, told my parents that I would become a teacher – she knew that even when I was 7!

Were you good or naughty?
I think good in general. Well, I didn’t get suspended or expelled from anywhere!

What was the naughtiest thing you did at school?
I used to sometimes skip classes and hang out with my friends in the park.

What’s your happiest memory from your school days?
Performing in some beautiful places in the UK, like York Minster Cathedral and at the Liverpool Philharmonic. In hindsight, I realise that I was given the opportunity to perform some spectacular pieces in amazing locations. I also remember the head of music at school writing a version of Summertime from the musical Porgy and Bess for me to sing. It was beautiful – much quicker than the original and with a very serious undertone. I remember my mum and auntie being blown away by it.

What about the worst one?
It had to be when my English teacher, Mrs Barnes, died in a car crash. It was so sad – she was such a vibrant woman with a zeal for life and had such an earthy quality. It was because of her that I absolutely adore Shakespeare’s Othello, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility.

How is school different these days to when you were a kid?
Today, there is much more emphasis on cross-curricular linking and developing the students holistically. The way in which technology is integrated into the classroom is wonderful: linking with other classes across the globe; using iPads in class; interactive whiteboards – it’s fantastic. Plus, it is so clear that international education systems play a huge role in the multi-cultural world of today. Schools celebrate cultural differences so much more and prepare their students to live in a diverse world. 

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