Alumni Newsletter Nº 5 – Summer 2021

It has been great that so many of you have been in touch with us over the last year and I thank all those of you who took the time to tell us either about your experiences and those that reflected back to their time spent here at Aloha College. These shared experiences help us all feel part of something much bigger – the sense of community and belonging that the alumni association helps to foster.

Recently, during the International Women’s Day celebrations, we shared stories with our tutor groups about women that we ourselves look up to. I told my class about a particular girl who was at my primary school and who, later in her life, went on to study medicine, when our paths crossed again as we attended the same university.  She was one of the top 30 mentioned in an RTVE article about women that have changed the world. It made me feel extremely proud of the fact that she had come from the same part of the small town where I had grown up, and had attended the same school.  Prof. Sarah Gilbert hit the headlines last year as one of the two main scientists leading the Oxford University team that developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19.

As we say goodbye to our current Year 13 students and wish them well for their future, we hope that they will also stay in touch with us. We look forward to hearing about their future exploits and hope that they will also be proud of where they have come from and our shared experiences together.  

Here, some of our alumni tell us about their journeys since leaving Aloha College:

 

Guillermo Ortuño Crespo (graduated Y13 2011)

It is hard to believe that 2021 is the 10-year anniversary of my graduation from Aloha College, where I spent 11 short years. In retrospect, it would be fair to say that my time at Aloha was critical for shaping my priorities and perception of the world. Its diversity and intenseness, both inside and outside of the classroom, unknowingly prepared me for the chapters that would follow.

A few months after graduating, I packed my bags and moved to the United States, where I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, my longtime passion. The IB science classes I took at Aloha allowed me to skip forward and start as second year undergraduate student at 17; little did I know that this would translate in me being the youngest student in the bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees that would follow, as well as my current position as a postdoctoral research at Stockholm University. Learning Lesson #1: Apparently, in the “real world”, being the youngest in a team is not always desirable; ignore it.

After warping up my degree, I moved back to Europe, where I did a masters in Ecosystem Management of Marine Systems at the University of St. Andrews, which was a nice throwback to the days where Mr. Escobar would help us prepare for the UCAS application process. Funnily enough, I was never accepted to St. Andrews as an undergraduate student. Learning lesson #2: be patient and persevere, do not let a momentary rejection put you off.

The very same week I had to hand in my master’s thesis in the United Kingdom, I was busy attending orientation week back in the United States to start a Ph.D. program at Duke University; where I had also been rejected during the undergraduate application process (insert Learning Lesson #2). The 5 years I spent at Duke University working on international fisheries science and governance were perhaps the most transformative of my life and awarded me a whole range of experiences and opportunities that were hard to imagine a few years earlier, from teaching graduate level courses, to giving various seminars at the United Nations in New York City; quite an inconceivable thought during the afterschool Model United Nations evenings at Aloha. I defended my Ph.D. dissertation during the COVID-19 pandemic – via Zoom, of course – and packed my bags for Sweden, where I have recently started a research position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre on international biodiversity conservation.

I have to admit that my day-to-day as a marine biologist looks nothing like what I had envisioned while studying at Aloha. For instance, earlier today, I spent four and a half hours on a Zoom call with the representatives from 10 of the largest seafood corporations in the world, from Japan to Norway, as well as her Royal Highness Princess Victoria of Sweden, who also happens to be very passionate about the Ocean. Finally, Learning Lesson #3 – to the current and prospective students of Aloha College – remaining true to your passion is the only formula I have found to live a busy and fulfilling life. Just keep swimming.

Reading over this short summary of the last 10 years, it seems all too linear and easy. I can promise you it was not. Each and every academic institution I have attended has both supported me and failed me during critical times. I have come to realize that people, not institutions, is what has made my journey worthwhile; for me, it has been my family, to whom I owe every opportunity and success since I started in Miss Mary’s Year 3 class back in Aloha.

 

Eline Keijzer (Y11 1990)

“Born and raised in Amsterdam until 6 years of age, I moved to Marbella with my family in 1980. My twin brother Michael and I studied at Aloha College from the very first day it opened in 1982. In those days there weren’t many of us at the school and they were still doing some of the building work, but it was like a big family. I have many great memories of those days at school; when it was your birthday they would put you up on the front steps of the school where they had an assembly every morning and everyone would sing to you, it was so lovely! I have many fond memories of Aloha days. We were lucky to grow up in this gorgeous environment. 

 

After graduating from school we went into the hostelry industry. However in 2015 I decided to make some changes in my life and choose a new path into the real estate market. Having grown up here and seeing Marbella change from a small village to a big modern town has been a magnificent journey which has given me an accurate knowledge about the area and its real estate. After traveling around the world I believe there’s no better place to live than Marbella, for countless reasons but the main one the quality of life that Marbella has to offer and I would like to pass on my experience and knowledge of Marbella to my clients to help them find their dream home and enjoy Marbella as much as I do.”

Over the last year, we have been in touch with some of our most recent graduates to ask how their studies are going and how the pandemic has impacted on their experiences. You can read their comments on the college website, by clicking on the Alumni tab.  One recent graduate who is now in his last year at university also got in touch.

 

Angel Marco (Y13 2016)

“I graduated from Aloha College in the summer of 2016 and believe we were the first class to graduate in the fancy new sports hall!

I am now in the final year of my Automotive Engineering course with a placement year in Industry at the University of Warwick. I started University in October of 2016, shortly after finishing my IB exams in Aloha.

Being at university was a new experience but not one that I was completely unprepared for. The individual style of learning was one that I felt trained for as it was already very similar to that of many of the teachers in my IB course, in particular the style of the greatest Physics teacher to ever live, Mr. Lopez.

Studying at Warwick has been a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed my first two years. This is something that I will always be grateful to my business teacher Mr. Wade for, as he was the one that first introduced me to Warwick and its course content. Being at university has allowed me to meet and be friends with very interesting people from all over the world, continuing what my upbringing at Aloha College encouraged.

The first year of university was one that, whilst challenging, did not intimidate me academically as I felt I had already covered much of the content being taught in the different modules that I did in IB. Particularly, in mathematics, physics and business. 

After three years of studying engineering and starting in July 2019, I did a placement year at Bosch, the company popularly known for making washing machines, but which is primarily an automotive components supplier. Here I was a supply chain coordinator for prototype automotive components for the Jaguar Land Rover company. My role primarily consisted of sourcing parts that were not yet in series production and ensuring they were delivered to the correct production locations in time. During the months of peak demand my account covered over 1.5 million euros in parts. During my year I had the opportunity to be part of some crisis management teams where we dealt with everything from supplier’s production facilities going on strike and having to deal with the subsequent part shortages to dealing with the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, when this affected just China and forced them to shut down factories and limit transport, leading to further part shortages.

I have now finished my placement year and am back at university for the final year of my degree. At university I have always been a very strong part of our Formula Student team, in which we, in our own time, design, fund, build and race an electric single seater car. Our current vehicle has 106 hp and can do 0-60 in under 4s. This year I am the chief chassis engineer and along with 2 peers run the operation which has over 60 different members. This year we are working hard to prepare 2 cars, one for competition at the Silverstone Grand Prix track in July and the other for some testing and for it to be displayed at the Coventry Transport Museum.

Once I graduate from University I am looking to work where my passions lie, in the automotive and motorsport fields wherever that may take me.”

Finally, one ex-student has recently been mentioned multiple times on the recent BBC2 Springwatch TV programme, which ran for twelve episodes from 25th May till 11th of June 2021.  Hannah is based in the remote Alladale Wilderness Reserve in the north of Scotland..

 

Hannah Kirkland (Y13 2009)

“After leaving Aloha in 2009, I’ve been working in wildlife conservation and am now working at a rewilding estate in the Scottish Highlands. I’ve recently set up a wildlife monitoring project, using remote cameras to monitor the native wildlife and it’s response to the rewilding work. Some of the footage that I’ve captured has recently featured prominently in this year’s BBC Springwatch, including footage of pine martens, mountain hares and black grouse, some of Scotland’s most iconic and rare species.”

We are always looking at ways to engage our alumni in the work of the college and wherever your journey has taken you since leaving us, get in touch on the alumni@aloha-college.com email. We would really like to hear from you.

 

Kevin Wade

team
Darren Roth
Headteacher Secondary

Earned his BA(Hons) in English Literature from Cardiff University before completing his teaching qualification as a secondary English teacher at Swansea University. Over 17 years in South Wales, he held roles including Head of English, Head of Sixth Form, and senior management before joining Aloha College Marbella in 2012. A passionate educator, Darren finds immense satisfaction in students’ success.

His diverse interests extend beyond the classroom. Darren obtained his pilot’s licence at 17 through a Royal Air Force scholarship and continued training for years. He volunteered in the Camp America scheme, played water polo for Wales Under 18s, and taught children to swim.
Outside of his professional and athletic pursuits, Darren enjoys reading, cycling, and walking his rescue Yorkshire Terrier, Charley. A paddleboarding enthusiast, he finds joy in outdoor activities. Darren also has a flair for cooking and delights in preparing meals for friends. He holds a special affection for the Andalusian sunshine and seizes every opportunity to explore Spain and beyond.

Earned his BA(Hons) in English Literature from Cardiff University before completing his teaching qualification as a secondary English teacher at Swansea University. Over 17 years in South Wales, he held roles including Head of English, Head of Sixth Form, and senior management before joining Aloha College Marbella in 2012. A passionate educator, Darren finds immense satisfaction in students’ success.

His diverse interests extend beyond the classroom. Darren obtained his pilot’s licence at 17 through a Royal Air Force scholarship and continued training for years. He volunteered in the Camp America scheme, played water polo for Wales Under 18s, and taught children to swim.

Outside of his professional and athletic pursuits, Darren enjoys reading, cycling, and walking his rescue Yorkshire Terrier, Charley. A paddleboarding enthusiast, he finds joy in outdoor activities. Darren also has a flair for cooking and delights in preparing meals for friends. He holds a special affection for the Andalusian sunshine and seizes every opportunity to explore Spain and beyond.

team
Louise Verinder
Designated Safeguarding Lead & Pastoral Care

Louise earned her BA Hons degree from Edge Hill University and went on to complete her PGCE. With a lifelong passion for sports, she always knew she wanted to become a PE teacher. She excelled, particularly in sports acrobatics, earning the honor of representing Great Britain. For fourteen years, she served as head of PE in Chorley, in the north-west of England, before embarking on what was supposed to be a year’s sabbatical in Spain.

Louise joined Aloha College in 2014 as a part-time teacher of PE. A couple of years later, she transitioned into the role of pastoral care, a role that she absolutely loves. Tasked with leading the secondary school’s PSHEE program and serving as the Designated Safeguarding Lead, she finds great pleasure in developing positive working relationships with teenagers, supporting their mental health and wellbeing, helping develop their self-esteem and confidence, as well as helping them navigate the challenges of life!
Louise is passionate about learning and developing her skillset. She is an accredited life coach with the ICF, specializing in working with teenagers. She has studied for a Diploma in NLP and has recently been awarded a Level 5 Diploma in Trauma and Mental Health-Informed Schools and Communities. 
Outside of teaching, Louise loves the simple things in life. Spending time with her family and friends, travelling, and spending time outside hiking, skiing and paddleboarding. She loves good food and she feels truly blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
team
Sara Dickie
Head of Key Stage 2

Graduated from the University of Plymouth with a BEd (hons) specialising in English Literature and teaching children in the primary age range.  For the next 17 years, Sara worked in large, central and outer London schools.  As a senior leader in the UK, Sara raised attainment and supported curriculum development across groups of schools in the local area and worked with the local education authority to provide training across boroughs. She ensured the success of school improvement in roles such as leader of English, Maths and SEND provision over the years.  Sara moved to Spain in 2017 and is currently our Head of Key Stage 2.  

Sara has travelled to many fascinating destinations across the globe and still counts travel as one of her interests.  However, she now spends more time at her rural finca in the Andalucian mountains than ever before due to the increasing number of rescue animals she supports.  Outside of education, Sara loves to spend time in the countryside with her horses, dogs and many other animals under her care. 
team
Liz Keys
Teaching & Learning

Liz gained a BA.Hons degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Hull.  After her PGCE  she began her teaching career at a state Primary School in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Her passion for teaching and her love of travel soon prompted her to take up her next role as a Reception class teacher at Bangkok Patana School in Thailand where she gained invaluable experience of working in an international environment. 

A desire to move closer to the UK prompted Liz to join Aloha College Marbella in 1997 where she has been a Key Stage leader in both KS1 & KS2. She is passionate about providing children with a Creative Curriculum which  provides exciting stimuli and first-hand learning experiences. Her interests are reading, travel and sampling different cuisines.
team
Anna Sweeting
Head of Key Stage 3 and Enrichment

Completed her degree in Business, Accounting and Finance, then later a Certificate in Mathematics. Having worked in banking, accounting and education finance she started teaching by founding a tuition company in 2006 and lecturing part-time in a further education college. These both grew, and a decision was made to sell the business and lecture full time, while also leading GCSE Maths. Anna made the move to secondary education in 2015, then joined Aloha College in 2016.

Anna loves inspiring students to try new things and to grasp opportunities, you never know where they will lead! She enjoys performing in theatre shows and singing, but the most drama in her life comes from being an avid follower of Blackpool FC, a curse that she has passed on to her two sons.
team
Jacqueline Brice
Head of Key Stage 4

Achieved a first class Honours degree in Mathematics and Physics from Kings College London before pursuing a career in broadcasting. She indulged her curiosity in the latest scientific and technological advances as a producer of scientific documentaries for BBC Radio and Television and then moved into fly-on-the-wall documentary making for Channel 4 with the police and the Royal Navy. Her broadcasting career has taken her flying through thunderstorms with lightning chasers in North Dakota, to crime scenes with the Metropolitan Police murder squad and from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to Gibraltar by Sea King helicopter. 

As her young family took priority in her life, she turned her degree into a Post Graduate Certificate of Education and brought her family to Spain, where she has continued to share her love of mathematics, science and life-long learning with the students of Aloha College for almost two decades. Over the years, she has thoroughly enjoyed leading the Mathematics Department and Key Stage 3 and now she is working as the Head of Key Stage 4, hoping to instill a love for learning and international travel in our young adults and to encourage them to value a broad range of creative, analytical and communication skills.
team
Ellen Richards
Head of EYFS

Studied at the University of Chester where she completed her BEd (Hons) in  Primary education, specialising in the Early Years. She believes there is no age range more exciting and inspiring with which to work, and feels fortunate to have truly found her vocation. 

Ellen has taught at international schools in Guangzhou, China, Bangkok, Thailand and London, UK, before joining the Aloha College Marbella team in 2018 where she is currently Head of Foundation Stage. Having attended international schools herself in Maseru, Lesotho, Yokohama, Japan and South Wales in the UK, Ellen feels a strong sense of belonging within our multicultural community.
Outside of work, Ellen is most content exploring all and any creative pursuits, be it in a rather haphazard way! What she lacks in finesse she makes up for in enthusiasm, and will happily while away the weekend with her sewing machine. 
team
Elaine McGirl
Head of Key Stage 5

An experienced educator with over two decades of expertise in the field of science and education. Originally from Ireland, Elaine graduated with Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Limerick after earning a Bachelor of Science in Education majoring in Biology and Chemistry. 

Driven by a passion for understanding how students learn best, Elaine has held diverse roles in education, including lecturing and tutoring in educational psychology to undergraduate students. She has extensive experience teaching various curricula, including the International Baccalaureate, A Levels and the Irish Leaving certificate, providing her with a comprehensive understanding of various educational systems. 
In 2007, Elaine joined Aloha College Marbella, where she has served as an IB and A-Level Biology teacher, General Science teacher, and Head of the Science Department. Currently, she holds the position of Head of Sixth Form and IB Diploma Programme Coordinator, demonstrating her leadership and commitment to guiding students towards academic excellence and personal growth.
Outside of teaching, Elaine enjoys Irish dancing, Flamenco, and salsa. She can play several instruments from her days in a youth marching band. Elaine loves traveling, trying new foods, and spending time with animals.
team
Anne Ross
Head of Key Stage 1

Began her teaching career with a Foundation Degree in Early Years from the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. She managed and developed a Nursery School in the Highlands for several years and was very involved in raising the awareness and the importance of Early Years education throughout many schools in the Highlands and North of Scotland. Anne then furthered her studies, experience and expertise by gaining a PGCE at the University of Buckingham to further her career in Primary education.

At Aloha Anne has always been passionate about extending her knowledge and learning, she is currently studying to become a certified Well-Being coach. She is a strong advocate of student wellbeing, emotional intelligence and social development, these important life skills ensure our students emerge more resilient and ready to face future adversities. 
Even though Anne has lived in Spain for over 20 years, she loves to explore Spain’s rich culture and many hidden treasures. She is an enthusiastic traveller with a love for diverse destinations and learning from different cultures. Anne has always been passionate about sports and keeping fit and in her spare time she loves Crossfit classes, family time and reading.
team
Emma Saunders
Primary Designated Safeguarding Lead & Pastoral Car

Emma has dedicated her entire teaching and professional career to ACM. A Saint Mary’s University London honour’s graduate, holding a Masters Degree in International Education from Oxford Brookes, Emma has shaped her career into a student-centric narrative. Her experience and research into “Third Culture Kids’, which recognises our students unique educational, international and Spanish experience, was used in crafting and developing the Primary PSHEE programme, facilitating essential skills appropriate to academic, psychological and emotional well-being.

Emma’s professionalism at Charity, is helping change lives for the vulnerable, in Málaga and Africa where ACM has initiated educational programmes in Kampala. Her work as a rapporteur for the COBIS ConnectED sessions is established and recognised. As a qualified Catechist, Emma’s Pastoral Care role is busy and engaging. As a safeguarding expert and officer, fluent in Spanish, Emma analyses the latest programmes, developments and policies, at national and International level.
As a former ballerina, Emma trained young dancers for school shows and Marbella events in modern/Irish dance, and regularly performed in her native West End. Emma also enjoys entertaining family and friends, however Tara the Afghan Hound as the newest member of the Saunders family, is the one who now steals the show!
team
Kate Edwards
Headteacher Primary

Kate graduated from the University of Central England with a BEd (Hons) in Primary Education, specialising in the Early Years. As an experienced leader in both UK and international educational settings, Kate is committed to providing students with a learning environment that celebrates effort and achievement in both academic and personal endeavors. In July 2019, Kate, completed the Cobis Program for Aspiring Heads, before taking on her first headship with us in 2023. 

In her spare time, Kate loves spending time with her husband and three children. They often enjoy trips to the park, constructing Lego masterpieces, strolls along the beach and splashing about in the pool. When time allows, Kate also loves to bake.  At home you’ll often find her whipping up a storm in the kitchen. Rumour has it, she dreams of donning the iconic apron on the Great British Bake Off one day! 
team
Víctor Ranea
Head of Administration

Víctor Ranea se unió al colegio como Business Manager en 2003. Lideró el proceso de transición entre la antigua compañía y la fundación actual. Como responsable del área de Administración, ha participado en varios Planes Estratégicos. Además de las finanzas y los Presupuestos Generales, ha dirigido los proyectos constructivos del colegio y contribuido en los planes de marketing así como en la implementación de nuevos sistemas informáticos del área de finanzas.

Licenciado en Ciencias Economicas y Empresariales por la Universidad de Málaga, Víctor Ranea es un apasionado del deporte, con experiencia en competiciones regionales, habiendo contribuido a la creación de los clubs deportivos del colegio. Un amante de los viajes y la gastronomía, así como de la música, el teatro y el cine.