Teacher is honoured for services to education

A teacher and author has received the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours for her services to education.

Leonie Huie, mum to three-year-old twin girls from Southwark, is the author of The First Year Is Survival, a book published in October last year for parents of twins and multiples.

She is also a part-time secondary school teacher and runs a company providing mums in business with one-on-one coaching.

Leonie, 40, from Camberwell, said: “I’m over the moon about it. Such an amazing award to receive as a secondary school teacher in London, especially with what’s going on in schools recently.

“It was so nice to see more women on the honours list and ethnic minorities like myself as well as NHS staff and key workers.

“When I find out about my BEM I was sitting at my desk at school marking Year 13 test papers.

“My heart skipped a beat. I read the email three times before it sank in. I felt rather emotional and overwhelmed. I had to keep it a secret for weeks.

“This is an honour to teaching in itself. Teachers often get a raw deal – some think our jobs are easy and we have too many holidays. But they don’t see behind the scenes – the research, planning and preparation to follow the national curriculum.

“Our job can be extremely stressful at times – especially through this pandemic. I must admit it has pushed me to my limits trying to teach from home with twins.

“This award is about all the students I’ve taught who never gave up, who went on to study at Russell group universities, who chose education over the streets, who run their own businesses, who are now frontline workers in the NHS, social workers, teachers and therapists, lawyers, accountants, criminologist, scientists.

“It is also for every teacher out there going above and beyond for their students, helping to shape the future generation. I’m very proud to be part of that.”

Leonie was a teacher at Harris Peckham Academy during its transition from being the Warwick Park School. Her teaching career has also taken in St Saviour’s & St Olave’s Girls School in New Kent Road and Lilian Baylis Technology School in Kennington Lane, Vauxhall.

She had started out doing work experience at Warwick Park secondary school in 2003.

At the time she was doing a dissertation on why black boys fail in education.

“I was encouraged by the amazing special educational needs co-ordinator, Benedict Opeku, to stay on as a teaching assistant,” she said. “I was also encouraged to do my teacher training qualification by two remarkable teachers, Sharon Simpson and Peter Blewett, both who have been in teaching for over 30 years.”

She left Harris Academy Peckham in 2007 to complete her teaching qualification in health and social care while working at St Saviour’s and St Olave’s girls’ school.

Pictured top: Leonie Huie


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