PARENTS and pupils know that Calderwood Lodge headteacher Lisa Corr is a highly-polished educator, professional and nurturing of the youngsters in her care.
But there’s another image of Miss Corr.
The ball is at her feet. She sprints down the wing. Weaves past a defender. Bamboozles another with a couple of slinky stepovers. Fires a probing cross into the box. And it’s a goal!
Lisa has many talents and aptitudes. One of them happens to be football, which she’s been playing since her own school days.
“I was very, very sporty,” she recalled with a grin. “And I loved to be on the football pitch and really active. I even played for my primary school team.
“But then, when I went to high school, there weren’t a lot of opportunities in that area for girls. So it wasn’t great.
“When I moved to Canada with my family for a few years, I played for my high school over there. Girls football, or soccer, is huge in Canada.
“So there were lots of really great opportunities. I played for my university team, too.”
Lisa played on the right wing. A position that requires skill, creativity and dynamism. Talents that also come in handy when you become the headteacher of Scotland’s only Jewish primary school.
Lisa no longer has time for a carefree kick-about. But she tells me she is quite happy to have swapped the goals on a football pitch for helping youngsters achieve their goals, instead.
After teaching at St Eunans, Clydebank, for nearly 10 years, where she rose to the position of deputy head, Lisa took over at Calderwood in December.
Although not Jewish herself, she is proud of everything the school stands for.
“The atmosphere and the community-feel is incredible,” she said.
“There’s a real importance to this school, as well, as it’s the only Jewish school in Scotland, and is very much central to the community. It’s very special and such a unique place.”
She added: “All schools are supportive of children in their learning, their education and their journeys. But certainly, here, the values stem from the Torah.
“And that’s not something that is kept separate from the other areas of the curriculum. It permeates through the entire school. It’s an essential part of the children’s study.”
Of course, Calderwood has changed and evolved over the years. Previously, the vast majority of the pupils were Jewish. It has a more multicultural feel now.
And in 2017 the school moved to its current site in Newton Mearns, where it shares a campus with St Clare’s Primary, a Catholic school.
Hailed as a world’s first at the time, Lisa said this interfaith interplay has proven to be a highly-successful enterprise.
“We really saw the fruits of it this session,” she said. “Both primary seven classes in both schools worked really closely together when it came to Holocaust education.
“They shared their learning with each other to quite a deep level. It all culminated in the children from both schools planning a Holocaust memorial service together.
“That was a really special project and it had a high impact on the children in terms of their knowledge, and in terms of their relationship with each other.
“Plus it was really nice for the children to see that, yes, you can have your own identity, but you can also share that identity with other people. And learn about those people, too.
“That’s such an important lesson in today’s society.”
When it comes to education, Lisa is particularly passionate about creative writing and languages in general.
She read Spanish and Italian at Strathclyde University, before taking her teaching qualification at Glasgow University.
She travels to Spain as regularly as possible, while keeping up conversational classes, thus ensuring she never becomes rusty.
One of the things that most impressed her at the school was the pupils’ proficiency in Ivrit.
“The children here are obviously learning the language right from primary one,” she said. “Being a linguist myself, that was something that completely blew me away — how able the children are by the time they get to primary seven.”
And has she started to dabble in the Hebrew language, herself?
“When I’m new to something, I throw myself into it and immerse myself. So I’ve picked up a few phrases and words and I’ll continue to learn, the longer I’m here.”
With her love of foreign languages, it’s surprising that Lisa never consider a career teaching Spanish or Italian.
She did mull it over for a while, but ultimately her goal was primary education.
“I just think it’s such a privileged role to have,” she said. “Particularly when you think of children coming into primary one.
“That’s when you really have that opportunity to help shape who they want to be and give them the skills to further their career paths.
“It’s such a special time in a child’s life, the primary school years. They learn so much and they change so much, as well.
“You really have an opportunity to be a model for them, and I think that’s an incredibly privileged role to have.”
Lisa has plenty of ideas to sustain Calderwood.
“We want to teach the children to use their voices to make a difference in the world, to promote equity,” she said. “That will be an essential aspect of the curriculum, going forward.
“Also, we’ll develop the key skills employers are looking for, such as creativity, IT, interpersonal skills, web design and coding.
“Some of the jobs the children will eventually be working in don’t even exist yet. It’s all about preparing them for the world of tomorrow, while making sure they get as much out of today, as well.”
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