Mr. Paul Barrie moved from Brazil to Romania this summer and aims to provide Avenor students with the best learning opportunities and tools, the best lessons, and a well-structured curriculum. All this contributes to helping our Avenorians achieve their goals and attend top universities.

But who is Paul Barrie as a man and as a professional? Find out from the first article part of the new series, Alexandra’s Interviews, dedicated to the passions and talents of the members of the Avenor community.

Alexandra: Tell us a bit about yourself. What/who inspired you to pursue a career in education?

Paul Barrie: Looking back, I believe I had 2 or 3 teachers in highschool who I respected immensely, perhaps even idolised. I learnt a lot from them. They supported me both emotionally and academically throughout my entire high school journey and proved to be both inspirational and motivational in my further life. They kept me going. I believe they were my inspiration, or rather my motivation, to pursue a career in education.

I’ve come to realize the main reason why I became a teacher was to give something back. I’ve just always been very keen on working and supporting young people, the next generation.

Alexandra: What is your favourite part about working with children?

Paul Barrie: I know it’s a cliche, but I love how truly different each day is, the lack of repetition and monotony. We have 100 students just in high school, so everyday must be different when you’re engaged with so many wonderfully unique young people, however equally lovely. I find that working with older students is particularly rewarding. It always leads to deep, well-structured and innovative discussions and debates.

It’s so hard to narrow it down, honestly it’s just a whole range of different things. However, I would say the most joyous part of teaching is watching a student understand a concept. It gives me the motivation to carry on. Seeing students understand and enjoy my lessons is by far the greatest part of my job!

Alexandra: What are some of your hobbies/interests?

Paul Barrie: I have a 4-year old son so most of my hobbies have come to revolve around him. My main hobby is football, particularly watching him play football. 

Some of my hobbies that exclude him, which I usually try to make time for when he gets to sleep, are watching movies and reading, something I’ve loved doing ever since I was a little boy. I believe allocating at least 20 to 30 minutes a day to reading can make such a noticeable difference. I am currently reading all about Romanian history, culture, which I’m finding particularly fascinating. However, my main hobbies are definitely sports and travel, generally average hobbies I would say.

Alexandra: What do you consider to be your duty as Head of Secondary?

Paul Barrie: I never think of my job as a duty, but rather a privilege, since my job allows me to look after the wonderful young people of Avenor. To support and care for them, as well as ensure their safety and well-being, is what I believe my job entails. My duty is to make sure everyone comes to school with a bright smile etched onto their faces. I strive to provide students with the best learning opportunities and tools, the best lessons and a well-structured curriculum. All of which meant to help our Avenorians reach their goals and attend their top-choice universities.

My job not only focuses on students, but on teachers as well. It is my duty to provide our teachers with the support and guidance deserved, so that they can  improve and consequently grow, just like our students, since life is a continual learning process. What my job is really about is helping everyone, both students and teachers.

Alexandra: What are your long-term goals/ aims for the Avenor community?

Paul Barrie: First of all, we want to continue the progression of results. We all strive for those high A level results, in order to continue Avenor’s long history of academic success. But also to develop our career and university programs, which offer the guidance needed by students to enter their ideal universities. Additionally, we are constantly searching for creative ways to develop that ambition in students, that determination and motivation to work harder and only strive for the best.

We have a very strong strategic plan set in place, focusing on how we can send our Avenorians out into the world as distinguished, creative and balanced young adults who will achieve great things in their lives.

Most importantly, I hope that, with time, I can become someone students can trust and consult with. I want both students and teachers to know that my door is always open.

Alexandra: You have recently moved from Brazil. What are some cultural shocks you have experienced during this transition?

Paul Barrie: The main one is also the most obvious one,the chilly weather! In Brazil it’s never cold.

What I’ve also found is that here, the paperwork and bureaucracy is so much more organized, something I am very thankful for. However, culturally I’m still learning, getting accustomed to the people, culture, even food. The food here is delicious, although very different. Everyday I learn something new!

Brazil is a magnificent country, and to have lived there was a remarkable experience, filled with beautiful memories my family and I will cherish forever. 

Nonetheless, now I am beyond excited to begin exploring Romania and all the marvelous sights it has to offer! 

Alexandra: What about in regards to education?

Paul Barrie: I like to think there are a lot of similarities between the two curriculums. After all, students are still students, regardless of geographical location, all hard-working, ambitious, hoping to excel and gain acceptance in their top choice universities, in order to pursue careers they are passionate about. 

However, what I can state with certainty about the students here is that they are all bright, motivated and polite young adults. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them even better.

Alexandra: What do you believe is the place for technology in the classroom, especially taking into account the COVID-19 ongoing pandemic?

Paul Barrie: Although this pandemic has been very hard on all aspects of our daily life, it has also familiarised us with various technological learning means, which is truly a wonderful thing.

I believe the point I would like every school to be at is becoming computer literate, teachers, parents, students especially. It is essential that we comprehend the benefits of technology in the classroom. I want students to be comfortable with their usage, curious about new platforms, apps, web-sites etc. I want everyone to appreciate how technology can enhance learning.  However, it is crucial that we get back to the traditional pen and paper from time to time.

We must learn how to link traditional and modern learning tools in order to create the most efficient lessons.

Additionally, we should also ensure that, although technology is a marvelous tool, we will not let it take over our lives and distract us from what is truly important.

Alexandra: How would you briefly describe your teaching philosophy? How has this changed over the years?

Paul Barrie: My qualifications are in German and P.E. I am also an International Baccalaureate examiner for history and German. I have gained a lot of experience from teaching in so many different countries, teaching so many different students and subjects. Consequently, I’ve come to realise teaching, or at least for me, is all about detailed planning, engaging activities and most importantly, constant feedback as well as encouraging questions and debates. This allows both me and my students to grow and improve!