26 January 2022

'I want people to feel happy and welcome when they walk into school'

Michelle Strachan has been appointed the new Head Teacher of Rothienorman Primary School.

Reflecting on when she found out she had been successful, Mrs Strachan said: “I was delighted to be given the opportunity. I had been acting in the post for a few weeks beforehand so I had already in my mind started to think where I would like to progress with certain things. I was really excited to be given the opportunity and be able to run with these things that I had planned.”

Having initially studied an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology at Aberdeen University, it was the birth of her son that prompted Mrs Strachan to consider a career in teaching instead. “I got really fascinated with how he developed, his learning, and child development. During this time, I volunteered at a special school and youth clubs,” she said. She completed a post graduate degree in primary teaching also at the University of Aberdeen. She undertook her probationer year at Macduff Primary School then taught at Fyvie Primary School for a couple years before moving to Gordon Primary School where she taught P1 before becoming Depute Head there. As well as teaching Mrs Strachan has completed post graduate courses in inclusion and autism and learning and she is in the process of completing her Into Headship course.

During her time at Rothienorman School Mrs Strachan has felt included and part of the team. “I was made to feel very welcome by the staff, the pupils and the families I had interacted with. That was really what made me want to stay on at Rothienorman School. When I was appointed as acting Head Teacher, I had the opportunity to have a brief handover with the previous head teacher which was very helpful. I also got to meet some of the staff and walk around the school. It just had a really nice feel to it. I also came in during the in-service days and had a couple of days with the staff. I was able to show them where my priorities are, share my values, and they aligned with some of theirs. I got quite excited about the prospects for the future. They were open and honest about where they would like to go as a school and about some of the things they found challenging in the past which puts them in a vulnerable position. They really embraced my ideas which we then further developed together,” she said.

Reflecting upon what attracts her to working in primary schools, Mrs Strachan said: “There are challenges in primary schools but these are totally outweighed by all the positives. The children are so keen to see you, eager to please, and they want to do the best that they can. They are motivated by lots of praise and doing well. It’s really just a positive place to be. I want the people to walk into Rothienorman Primary School feeling happy and welcome, and that we have this sense of connectedness with each other, with the pupils and with families.”

Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, said: “Many congratulations Michelle Strachan! It is heart warming to hear that her own son and the voluntary work she undertook inspired her to become a teacher. I am also delighted to see the school community already collaborating to build on the successes at Rothienorman School. I look forward to the school going from strength to strength under her leadership.”

Committee vice chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “I am impressed with Michelle Strachan’s commitment to self-improvement. I am sure this knowledge and the networks she is building will stand her in good stead as she grows and develops as a head teacher. Well done Michelle!”