Math Teacher, Trekker, Cyclist, Kyrgyzstan

I first saw Anne in a homestay in a small town of Karakol in Kyrgyzstan. After a taxi mix up and cancellation of our other plans, we had a spontaneous dinner, and I'm so glad I got a chance to get to know her. It was so refreshing to chat to this adventurous soul (not kidding, she just returned from a three day trek in the Tien-Shan mountains where on day two water purification pills disappeared), who is also incredibly funny and has a heart of gold. I learned about an amazing initiative in UK, and her personal aspirations and pitfalls when it came to her career.

1. Name.

Anne Quilter

2. Where is your hometown?

Warrington, England, now live in London

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

Maths secondary school teacher

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?

I came across Teachfirst at a University careers fair and was inspired by the programme, (I had no intent of becoming a teacher at the time). I really liked the idea of the challenging two years in a School with pupils from a low socio-economic background and learning the skills of leadership through the programme and then also having the option of leaving after two years and options being opened through Teachfirst

5. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?

Actually this is not one solo thing, the main thing has been sticking at it, in the first two years I wanted to quit countless times as the challenge was far harder than I expected, However I am now 9 years into my teaching career, although I have moved schools I still work with pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds and it really is the most rewarding profession you could hope for. Year on year, seeing some of the pupils succeed and head off for amazing Universities makes it really special.

6. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?

The first year in particular was incredibly difficult, the big disappointment is I didn't realise how crap I would be at the job to start with, you work insanely long hours just to manage the bare minimum, it can be quite disheartening to work so hard and still feel like you are failing, I overcame it only by having an amazing network of friends who were doing the same thing.

7. Advice for other women?

Surround yourself with positive people, both women and men, the impact that your friends and colleagues have on your attitude is immense. I have so many strong, successful female friends who are amazing, both in their careers and in their personal life. By seeing their successes it feels like challenges can really be overcome.

8. Where in the world do you feel “tallest”?

Probably with my sisters, (I am actually the tallest at 5ft3! We are very supportive of one another and help each other out a lot.

9. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?

In 2015 I lost my mother after a long battle with MS. My two sisters and I had already decided to do a triathlon to raise money for the MS society. The triathlon came about three weeks after my mother had passed away. We all completed our first ever sporting race (it was also a very challenging course) and we raised more than we had hoped for MS society. It was an emotional day but I also realised the positive effect that having a sporting event to train for had on my mental state through difficult times. Since then I have done a half marathon, cycled from London to Paris and another triathlon, all with one of my sisters and friends.

10. What is the future goal/challenge (career and/or life goals in 5-10 years)?

I want to continue to travel the world. I the 9 years of teaching, I have been lucky to visit some amazing countries, Nepal,Uganda, China, Cambodia, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Russia, Kyrgyzstan! We love adventures, climbing volcanoes in Guatemala, cycling the Mekong river in Cambodia, 5 day treks in Kyrgyzstan are some of the highlights. I love languages and speak some french and some russian and love to have the opportunity to speak to people that would otherwise be difficult.

11. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

Hopefully balancing having a family with a successful career and also continuing to see the world. I think the balance is something that women who love their jobs have to consider carefully, but it is also an exciting prospect

12. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?

This is hard as obviously I have made mistakes but they also make you who you are. The only other career that appeals is medicine.

13. What inspires you?

Education, I am lucky to have had parents that believe in education and I attended a good state school. My most passionate debates are always about education and the lack of social mobility in England. Unfortunately I do not see it getting better with plans by the current government, I want to stay working in the field I am in but would also love in future to have some impact on education policy.

14. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)

"Everything is illuminated" by Jonathon Saffron Foer is one of my favourites, I love the way he writes as a foreigner. I also love "Life of Pi". At the moment I am reading "I am Pilgrim"

15. Who is a “WOW Woman” in your life who inspires you (and why)?

I have a few, the main one was my mum. She lived with MS for 27 years but never let her define her, one of my strongest memories with her was climbing to the top of Notre Dame (327 stairs), I remember at the time questioning why she was doing this, it took a lot of time and lots of energy but know I understand, she really didn't let anything defeat her. The other "WOW woman" is the principal of the school I work in, she is such a positive and ambitious woman and makes the whole staff believe in her mission to make the pupils succeed far better than our less than social mobile society would predict for them.

16. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?

Actually I don't have any of these things!