Creativity runs through everything Nadine Sabbagh does, both inside and outwith the classroom. An English teacher at Blairgowrie High School, she works tirelessly to deliver lessons that inspire her students to reflect, engage and participate in the world around them.
“I can go from teaching Artemis Fowl one period—a fantasy novel about a 12 year-old criminal mastermind, complete with fairies, dwarfs and trolls—to discussing the moral implications of war photography the next!”, she tells us.
A typical day for Nadine is typically jam-packed from start to finish, so organisation is key, and she usually arrives at work quite early to read over her lesson plans and clear her head. This is especially important on Mondays and Tuesday when she has back to back classes!
“I often work through break time but try my best to give myself a rest for lunch (although I sometimes get interrupted by pupils rushing in to give me the latest Harry Potter news, an excuse as to why they haven’t completed their homework, or I find myself on detention duty!)”, she laughs.
“On Wednesday lunchtimes I run an Astronomy club so I can share my love of space with budding little astronauts and (self-proclaimed) aliens.” And the day doesn’t end for Nadine when the last bell rings at 3:40pm.
“I tend to leave at 6pm (by this point I’m almost getting thrown out of the school by the cleaning staff), carting my pile of marking with me. I can sometimes find myself working until midnight; there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day!”
Outside the classroom though, Nadine loves to engage in a really unique pastime – astrophotography! When she needs to relax, there is nothing better than lurking in her parent’s back-garden, telescope and camera in tow to capture the stars.
We chatted to Nadine about school-days and starry nights – we hope you’ll love viewing her gorgeous pictures as much as we did, too!
I’m always happiest when I have my telescope, a starry night, and three pairs of socks!
Tell us the weirdest / funniest thing that has ever happened to you at work?
When you work with 150 children each week you certainly don’t fall short of weird and funny incidents! I was recently absent for a couple of weeks due to having an operation and when I returned I realised a rumour had been going around that I’d died! My pupils were quite surprised to see me alive and well (and rather disappointed that it meant they weren’t getting out of studying Shakespeare!)
What signals the start of your days off?
There’s nothing quite like that feeling on a Friday when you get home and realise that you can just wind down and forget about everything for a while. I almost always check the MET office to see what the weather is going to be like as I am a huge astronomy enthusiast and clear skies at the weekend mean I can grab my astro-gear and head outside to spend the evening under the stars. I’m always happiest when I have my telescope, a starry night, and three pairs of socks!
I like to dabble in daytime photography, but my passion is for astrophotography. It’s so exciting being able to capture the swirling cloud bands of Jupiter or the distant glow from galaxies millions of light-years away all from your back garden. I also like to paint in my spare time, so the weekends give me the perfect opportunity to get creative!
What might people be surprised to know about you?
Despite my passion for astronomy, I am terrified of the dark – a strange phobia for someone whose favourite hobby consists of standing alone in the dark for hours on end! I’ve been known to run away squealing from cows mooing in nearby fields and the rustling of hedgehogs in the bushes. In my overactive imagination, every snap of a twig is some terrifying monster lurking in the shadows.
What is at the top of your bucket list?
I would love to visit Finnish Lapland to see the Aurora Borealis. I was lucky enough to photograph the lights in Perth a couple of years ago (from Gloagburn car park!) but I haven’t seen them since. I’d love to stay in one of the log cabins at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, surrounded by snow, stars and the magical Northern Lights. I’d also love to visit New Zealand to tour Hobbiton and see the landscapes where Lord of the Rings was filmed – I am a huge fan!
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I thankfully haven’t had any horrendous jobs, but I didn’t enjoy my time working in retail. It was a thankless job. Customers were often rude and the days were very repetitive. I had some great colleagues though, so that helped.
There’s nothing better than seeing pupils have that ‘lightbulb’ moment.
Who or what inspires you?
My sister, Tina, is my inspiration as she is the strongest, kindest, most determined person I know. She can do anything she sets her mind to and has achieved so much in her life. And of course there’s J.R.R. Tolkien as well… he’s the master of imagination! The ability to create an entire history for a fictional world is truly amazing. I’d love to be able to write like him.
Tell us about the day you’d love to live again?
This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me… I’d love to visit the Harry Potter studios again! I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a huge Harry Potter fan and actually getting to see the sets, props and concept art was incredible. I was so excited that I don’t think I took everything in properly as I was zooming around the place trying to see everything at once so I’d love to visit again.
What’s the best part about your job?
There’s nothing better than seeing pupils have that ‘lightbulb’ moment when something they’ve been struggling with finally clicks. I think it’s only natural to sometimes doubt yourself as a teacher and wonder if you’re really making a difference, especially for someone like myself who hasn’t been in the profession long, so it is very rewarding when you see pupils making progress in your subject. I also love having a whole classroom that I can decorate to my heart’s content…
Complete this sentence; the best things in life are…
The little things all around you; remember to appreciate them, even when life gets tough.
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