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News > Teacher Perspective > Mrs Noelle Lobato

Mrs Noelle Lobato

Originally hailing from the Republic of Ireland, Mrs Lobato began her journey at St. Julian's in 1990 teaching English and 'Extra English'
Mrs Noelle Lobato
Mrs Noelle Lobato

Originally hailing from the Republic of Ireland, Mrs Noelle Lobato pursued her studies in English and French, and Higher Diploma in Education at University College Dublin before undertaking a MA in Education programme at the University of Bath.
In 1990, Mrs Lobato began her journey at St. Julian's, teaching  English and ‘Extra English’. From 1990 to 2023, she imparted her knowledge in English Literature and French, eventually assuming the role of Head of the English as Second Language Department. Subsequently, she served as the Co-director of the English Department and Head of the English Faculty. In 2011, she took on the responsibility of IB Coordinator. In this position, her rigorous approach and vast expertise played a pivotal role in the success of numerous generations of students.

Please share your experience of relocating to Portugal.

After completing my degree and teaching qualification, I decided to spend a year in France to enhance my French language skills. It was during this time, while teaching English in Paris that I met a Portuguese man who later became my husband. Our children were born in Paris. In 1983, I received a job offer from St. Dominic's, and we decided to relocate to Portugal. We believed that Portugal would offer our children a better quality of life.

Do you have a cherished memory from your time at St. Julian's?

There are countless memories that hold a special place in my heart. Naturally, the school, Portugal, and the world at large have undergone tremendous changes since I started at St. Julian's. One memory that stands out is from when the school was considerably smaller. I recall that at the Y11 end-of-the-year dinner, we used to play a game with the new teachers. A new teacher would be ‘randomly’ selected, blindfolded and laid on a stretcher on the floor. They were informed that the stretcher would be lifted as high as possible, and they had to remain calm to avoid falling off. Four students cautiously held on to each end of the stretcher, attempting to raise it higher. I was one of those blindfolded teachers. When it was my turn, they kept raising the stretcher higher and higher in a very wobbly, precarious way! I was screaming and pleading with them to stop - while the audience roared with laughter! Eventually (probably after only a couple of minutes) I was lowered back onto the floor and the blindfold was removed. Once it was removed, they told me that I had only been lifted about three inches off the ground! Another game involved passing an old rusty key attached to a string through the girls' dresses and the boys' trousers in a competition between the two sides of the dining room. While it was undoubtedly politically incorrect, it was terrific fun. Such activities would be unimaginable in today's context, but they were hilarious.

What sets St. Julian's apart and makes it special?

One aspect that makes St. Julian's exceptional is our great campus, featuring the Palacio and its beautiful grounds. The institution embodies a sense of history and continuity. In addition, St. Julian's offers a well-rounded education, providing abundant opportunities for students. With the wide range of activities we currently offer, students have ample opportunity to discover and cultivate their talents. Even in the past, when the focus was primarily on academics, various activities such as drama, sports, debating clubs, and the Model United Nations (MUN) were integral to the school experience. St. Julian's has always fostered a vibrant environment of diverse activities.

Which extracurricular activity holds a special place in your heart?

Among the various extracurricular roles I undertook, I must admit that the Model United Nations (MUN) was my favourite. It offered students a remarkable experience to expand their knowledge of the world and broaden their horizons. It provided them with a unique opportunity to meet high-calibre, multicultural students from other schools, especially at the renowned conference in The Hague, which was the largest in the world at that time. They had the chance to interact with students from diverse backgrounds spanning the globe. For me, it was also a fantastic learning experience as  I also had to learn about the countries our delegates represented.

What was the most significant challenge you faced as a teacher?

I joined St. Julian's in April, a time of the year when everyone was busy with upcoming exams and the usual summer term work which initially made it challenging for me to integrate. However, as time went on, I gradually got to know people and the situation improved.
I must confess that when I first arrived in St. Julian's in 1990, it was quite a culture shock for me. Having never taught at a British school before, everything felt very traditional. I distinctly remember the academic gowns worn by the Headmaster, Mr Bull, and the Deputy Headmaster, Mr Terry Hamilton (R.I.P), during assemblies. We would all rise when they entered the Hall. Our assemblies began with a hymn, and we used to say grace before and after lunch. Maids served lunch in the dining room, where students and staff sat at large wooden trestle tables. The beginning of each meal was signalled by a Prefect sounding the gong, and we were expected to remain seated until Mr Bull had finished his meal. The school's daily structure was woven with numerous traditions.

What do you find most rewarding about being a teacher?

Witnessing a student overcome a challenge (however small), learn, and grow as an individual is immensely rewarding. It is truly gratifying to teach a student throughout the International Baccalaureate (IB) course and witness their 'metamorphosis' over the span of those two years. It's so lovely to have a conversation with them as young adults. Teaching is a profession that offers great diversity. We have the freedom to shape our curriculum according to our interests and develop a very personalised program. As an English teacher, observing the responses and interpretations students bring to language and literature can be amazing. They offer perspectives that I would never have conceived of, allowing me to see texts from a younger person's point of view and worldview.

Do you believe life is more challenging for students today?

In many ways, life has become more challenging for students today. They are bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information and "knowledge" on the internet and social media. There are more distractions compared to when I was growing up. On the other hand, they have access to so much information that my generation didn't have at their age. Students can easily click and find what they need, whereas, in the past, we had to visit libraries, wait for books, make handwritten notes etc. However, the big challenge now of navigating and selecting reliable information is considerable. And of course, we now have IA…..!
I believe there are more personal challenges and difficulties in the world today than when we were younger. But then, I remember my mother saying the same to me when my children were young so maybe every generation faces its own challenges.

What would you share if you could pass on any wisdom from your career?

Be optimistic and trust in the good side of students when they drive us crazy! Try not to get dragged down by the more difficult side of school life. Believe in the good side of humanity and always strive to see the brighter/ funnier side of things.


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