2015 & 2016 Teacher Trailblazers
Ben teaches at King’s College School in Wimbledon. Born in Shropshire, his earliest verse adventures were through Poem Tree anthologies about castles, monsters, and witches. A chain of inspiring schoolteachers encouraged him to write his own poems, and at sixteen he was awarded a bursary to attend a life-changing Arvon week led by Ann Sansom and Peter Carpenter (another Teacher Trailblazer). Being placed by Fanthorpe and Duffy in Peterloo and Wenlock competitions was Ben’s confirmation to keep writing and to get reading more contemporary poetry. For a short while at university he was taught by Jon Stallworthy, whose encouragement to ‘keep hold of those old drafts’ stuck.
Ben read his Masters in Shakespeare and then trained as a script developer with the National Film School. His first eight years of teaching have flown by and he is grateful to have worked alongside energising individuals. He runs a creative writing society that is currently exploring what it means to be a boy, and he leads a weekly poetry writing community project with students from two schools in a local historic home. Both ventures have their own publications, and Ben continues to develop writers’ screenplays and his own poems.
Donna had taught English at Maidenhill Secondary School in Stonehouse for the last 6 years. She thoroughly enjoys her job as an English teacher and likes to share her passion for English with the young people in her school.
Outside of school, she has a variety of hobbies (and of course, reading is one of them!) She enjoys walking her Yorkshire Terriers, Rolo and Ruby, which keeps her fit and encourages her to explore the great outdoors. Her guitar is still in a box in the cupboard, but has resolved that by Christmas, she will be able to play a tune or two.
Donna’s biggest passion is poetry and she is a keen writer. Everything in the world inspires her to to write and she keeps a journal close by at all times in case something pops into her mind! She has recently had her first piece of work published in an anthology and has won numerous competitions over the years – even one that was judged by Jamie Oliver! She enjoys sharing her success stories with her students and tells them that anything is possible and if they work hard enough their talents will be recognised and celebrated.