Staff Spotlight: Becky Cathro, Chemistry Technician

In our Staff Spotlight series we are speaking with our fantastic Gordonstoun staff and getting an insight into what makes them tick. Introducing Becky Cathro, Chemistry Technician, and one of the secret weapons of the Science Department.

Tell us a bit about yourself, what you do and how long you have worked at Gordonstoun

I grew up not far from here in a village near Nairn. I have been working at Gordonstoun for over 8 years as the chemistry technician and I also work as a tutor in Plewlands boarding house. I really enjoy being out and about in the beautiful countryside with my family. We love the nearby beaches and mountains and feel extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

What do you enjoy most about working at Gordonstoun?

I most enjoy working with the students, they are all so lovely and full of fun. I worried when I first started working as a science technician that I would be stuck away in a prep room, but I am always in amongst the students, helping them with their practicals. I really enjoy working with the students who are less confident and helping them progress. We are really lucky at Gordonstoun to have a technician for each science which means that the students get lots more hands-on experience.

My favourite part of the week is duty night in the boarding house, which is part of my tutoring role. This is when I can chat to my tutees and the other students and really get to know them, help with any issues they are facing and encourage them in different aspects of school life. I have developed some lovely bonds with the students and it is a pleasure watching them progress and grow as individuals from year 9 to year 13.

What is happening in Science right now?

We are looking forward to British Science Week from the 8th to 17th of March and will be holding our inter-house science competition again which we first held last year and it was a big hit. Junior and senior teams from each boarding house will be given a rather tricky practical experiment to carry out, and must use their brains to work out how to get a specific set of results. It is great to see so many of the students so enthusiastic about chemistry. We recently held a Chemistry Olympiad which is an extremely tough 2-hour long exam paper with lots of very challenging problem solving.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I’m not one to big myself up so I’m going to say that cleaning hundreds of thousands of test-tubes each term is my greatest achievement. Doing the dishes is not my favourite job, however there is a lot of glassware in chemistry to be cleaned. Luckily I have a really good view from my window and I often get waves from students as they go by. I have also seen squirrels and the occasional deer, so it’s not all bad!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

In general, I am a very happy person as I am lucky enough to have so many wonderful people around me. Getting to spend time with my family and friends makes me happy, I love playing with my little boy, the simple little things like being silly and making him laugh is everything. I am also extremely happy while eating, so going out for food, having a picnic/BBQ or devouring a big bar of chocolate makes me happy!

What is something surprising about you?

I actually hated chemistry at school and loved biology. I had to study chemistry in order to do biology at university but it wasn’t easy! I now thankfully have much more time for it,the practical side is a lot of fun and I much prefer explosions to dissections!

What talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to sing well. I love singing in the car or at home but I’m not sure I’m always in tune while blasting out a bit of Sia or Taylor Swift.

Is there a quote or saying you live your life by?

I don’t live my life by quotes however I have been known to quote Winnie the Pooh to my tutees "You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

What is your guilty pleasure?

I love chocolate. Milk chocolate whole nut bars are my favourite and if I open a big bar it is all eaten pretty fast! I do also tend to hide these from my family and then they find a stash of wrappers in my car. Guilty!

Thank you Becky for taking the time to talk to us!

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