Staff Spotlight: Charlotte Marsh, Assistant Head Wellbeing

Today’s Staff Spotlight is on Charlotte Marsh, Assistant Head Wellbeing. A Disney loving, piano playing superstar, Charlotte is at the beating heart of pastoral care at Gordonstoun.

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

We are now coming up to the end of my second year at Gordonstoun, it's gone very quickly I have to say! Before Gordonstoun, I lived in Asia for a number of years, but we made the decision about two and a half years ago to return to the UK, and what an amazing decision it was. I love it here, I love living in Scotland - what isn't to love about our area?

My job is Assistant Head Wellbeing, which Reverend Schonken describes as “the hugs of pastoral care”. I have the privilege of witnessing people on their absolute best days and offering support on some of their toughest days, helping with everything in between. I also enjoy educating students about self-care and what it entails. We discuss not only physical health but also the importance of emotional health, distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy habits. Through my work, I get to take care of all these aspects within the school and build meaningful relationships with many of our students.

I'm an art teacher, my background is in interior architecture, and not many students know that, unless they're taught by me. I also teach International and Spiritual Citizenship (ISC), which connects to my role really well. I love the diversity of my job here, I never know what my day is going to bring. That’s what I love about Gordonstoun.

What do you enjoy most about working at Gordonstoun?

Oh gosh, it's so difficult, I can't pick just one! The young people in this place make it what it is. I thrive within communities, and at Gordonstoun we are just a fantastically diverse body of people. That's what I love about this place.

It doesn’t hurt that I live on campus, and my walk to work is just beautiful. There's a lot of pinch me moments working here.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your role? Supporting young people through difficult days, such as when they have an exam and aren't feeling positive about it, is incredibly important to me. While it can be heart-wrenching when I feel unable to make a difference in the moment, it drives me to find new ways to reach out and help. These challenges inspire me to be more resourceful and dedicated to making a positive impact.

The ultimate challenge, I believe, is maintaining balance. I strive to ensure my day isn't just filled with meetings, but is primarily spent with students, as that's my main role. Prioritising time with students is crucial, and I make it a point to focus on them. Sometimes this means making tough decisions, like cancelling a meeting to provide the necessary support to a young person in need, but it's all part of my commitment to their wellbeing.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I have an amazing family and of course they're an achievement, but they're also their own achievement. They are who they are because they are just wonderful human beings.

I'm going to be really honest and I don't think people say this often enough, which is why it's important. I think that me, being here just now, being happy and filled with joy, and also knowing that when I’m not, I know what to do, that’s the achievement. That actually I'm prepared to stand up and say, you know, today might not be a good day or, today is fantastic, but whatever the day I have the tools I need, because life is sometimes difficult. I think that is my biggest achievement.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

It varies, it depends on the day. If I was to shut my eyes and visualise perfect happiness, I would be standing in the middle of Main Street at Disney World USA, looking up at the Magic Kingdom Castle with fireworks going off and my family standing next to me and seeing joy on their faces. That is my absolute, heart filled with joy, perfect happiness.

But also give me a sunny day like we had over the weekend, sat out in the garden looking out over the Gordonstoun woodland with a glass of say, juice, in my hand!

What is something surprising about you?

I'm a bit of an open book really! I suppose something surprising is that I taught myself to play piano in COVID. I'm not from a musical background in any way, but I just decided I wanted to play the piano and I taught myself. I'm also an absolute Elvis Presley fan, so maybe that might surprise people?

What’s your favourite Elvis song?

I've got so many. At the moment I think it's ‘If I Can Dream’ just because it makes me smile.

What talent, real or fictional, would you most like to have?

Teleportation, because I absolutely love travelling. I'd be able to do it without getting on any mode of transport, I could just click my fingers and I'd be there. It would also help me with my job to be able to just suddenly appear in the classroom!

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

I don't necessarily follow quotes, but something my late mum always used to say to me, so I always have it with me, is “believe in yourself, and be proud of who you are, and don’t let other people tell you otherwise”. I think that's a big thing. Be proud and be strong. I've got a sweatshirt that I often wear when I'm on duty around campus that just says “you're enough”.

What is your guilty pleasure?

That's a really easy one and it is really guilty. It's sweets, but in particular - wine gums. I don't pass them up. Ever. In terms of my eating habits, I'm quite health conscious, but with wine gum sweets I can destroy a bag in seconds. When I lived in China, COVID lockdown prevented any imports of anything from outside of China. It had been about 18 months, and finally, a colleague at the school that I was working at was able to get back into China. She packed half a suitcase full of wine gums, which she presented to me when she arrived - that's how much of a guilty pleasure it is! They did not last…

Thanks to Charlotte for taking the time to answer our questions!

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