Jacqui Ridsdale's Job Talk to the Rotary Club of Roundhay
We’ve had such a busy programme of speakers over the last couple of years that we haven’t had time to hear a job talk from some of our newer members. Last week provided us with the opportunity to get to know a lot more about one of our popular newer members, Jacqui Ridsdale, who joined us in July 2015.
Jacqui told us that she has followed a long and winding road to finding her true vocation as a teacher. In a talk well illustrated with anecdotes and photographs, she took us from her A levels at Agnes Stewart high school in Burmantofts, to her first job as a library assistant at Leeds University, from there to a succession of increasingly responsible jobs in Building Societies, then to Green Flag as an account executive.
It became apparent to her listeners that Jaqui is blessed with a number of life-affirming qualities: a determination to maintain a sensible work/life balance, the confidence to leave a job and move on when feeling unfulfilled, and an appetite for learning new skills. Thus Jacqui left her first job at the library when it became deadly quiet after the students had finished at the end of term - the excitement of trolley races after tidying the stack soon started to pall. She swiftly rose in Building Societies until getting out after promotion to assistant branch manager and the realisation that, although the hefty pay rise was nice, she could now be required to move around the country at short notice. The job at Green Flag turned out to be all about sales, although Jacqui seems to have identified a congenial core to the job: schmoozing big union clients over lunch.
Jacqui left Green Flag when expecting her first child. She regarded her time as a homemaker as an opportunity to acquire new skills – not just domestic, but also undertaking a BSc course at Leeds Beckett university in Information Systems For Business. On graduating, she became an ICT trainer with the firm CATS Consulting, devising courses for business.
By this time Jacqui had two children. Maintaining that healthy work/life balance, she decided to take a take a break from paid employment, but soon got involved with her daughter’s primary school Highfield, where she became a school governor, eventually attaining the position of vice chair.
Back in paid employment, and edging towards her true vocation, Jacqui got a job as ICT Tutor with Leeds City Council’s adult education unit, where, supported by a techniciain, she would take laptops out into the community, including to unlikely locations such as the High Wood pub in Brackenwood, in an initiative known as COW [computers on wheels].
Jacqui then had a spell as a curriculum support assistant at Wortley High School, a very tough and challenging school where she once had to lock herself in the office for her own safety, but from which she takes memories of some inspirational teachers and students. Next was a stint as a project co-ordinator at Park Lane College, supporting new businesses in deprived areas and helping to run a monthly arts and crafts market. There she discovered a talent for creative writing, running a writers’ workshop and writing a weekly column in the magazine City Dweller.
And finally, the eureka moment. Jacqui discovered that she really wanted to be a teacher. Inspired by the educationalist Sir Ken Robinson, Jacqui qualified and then devoted herself full time to helping young children find their talents, building up their self esteem and confidence in reception classes at St John’s and Roundhay primary schools. Then, with her unerring instinct for maintaining the right balance of nurturing her own children as well as others, she stepped down to part time, ending her teaching career [for now] with what she called her ‘dream post’, a permanent two day a week job, purely teaching but without the additional responsibilities usually borne by teachers.
Jacqui remarried last year and took up another challenge, working in her husband’s family jewellery business, where she combines roles of administrator, IT and social media, sales assistant and trouble shooter.
We wonder what new challenge this dynamic lady will take on next. Answering questions from the audience, she told us that she feels she has a novel in her waiting to get out. We can’t wait.