Alumni Newsletter nº 7 – Summer 2023

Dear Alumni,

Hopefully this finds you well as we look forward to summer here in the south of Spain. As we complete another academic year and welcome the current Year 13 students into our alumni, we also see our current principal, Mrs Batchelor handing over the reins of the College to Mr Escobar as she heads for retirement.  Many of you will know Mrs Batchelor from your time here, since she arrived as Head of Primary School in 1998. We all wish her well and good health as she now will be able to spend even more quality time with her family here on the coast.

We are looking into a better way of keeping you all involved, since as the stories below show, our alumni have gone on incredibly diverse and interesting journeys since their time at the College. With this amount of talent and experience, we would like even more involvement from our ex-students in shaping the futures of current pupils. Watch this space to see how we are going to improve our networking and get more of you actively involved.

We have three alumni, who tell us their stories and share their fond memories of their time at Aloha College.

Joachim Bjorkmann – Graduated 2008

Joachim is currently based in the Danish embassy in London, working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. In his role as Relationship Manager, he seeks to attract foreign direct investment into Denmark, especially from the technology sector.

“It still boggles my mind that it has been 15 years since I graduated from Aloha College in 2008 – I don’t feel 15 years older and I like to think I don’t look 15 years older, but it is an undeniable fact that time has absolutely flown by. I look back very fondly on my 3 years at Aloha; what stands out to me aside from my friendships is how much I valued my relationships with the teachers and how well I got along with them. That made Aloha special to me.

I was one of those students who had no idea what I wanted to do after Sixth Form, but knew that I wanted to go to University to get a degree with good transferable skills so ended up doing a History degree at the University of Exeter in the hopes that three years of a degree would give me some idea about what career I wanted to have. It didn’t, and as such I ended up campaigning to be Student Union President, winning by several hundred votes. I spent the next 12 months as President (a salaried role, so technically my first job) where I represented the students socially, academically and politically and had oversight over the £20m budget allocated for my campus. After I finished my term, I still wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do but was offered an opportunity to work for a wealth management company in Malta – I spent two years working there and getting my Diploma of Investment Advice and had a wonderful time. I still felt the need to make myself more competitive though, and missed the UK so I applied and got on to the MSc in Management at Bristol University in 2015.

After graduating from my MSc, I spent months fervently applying for any graduate scheme I could come across ranging from Dyson to BMW to HSBC. I finally found success with Goldman Sachs in London who hired me into their Operations division, first working in Trade Support and then moving over to their PWM middle office. Operations wasn’t really for me, so after 18 months I applied for a role at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that popped up. Since 2019 I’ve been at the embassy in London, working as a Foreign Direct Investment specialist and recently transitioned my role into working specifically with Quantum Technology and building key international partnerships and cross-border relationships between DK-UK public and private stakeholders.

My message is that it’s OK to have a squiggly career. It’s OK to not know what you want to do. I love my current job, it is so exciting, but it’s taken me getting to the age of 32 (almost 33) before I finally realised that I want to work in Quantum Technology and use my communications and relationship skills to create value in that sector. The most important thing is believing in yourself and being persistent – take the initiative, be proactive. What I do now wasn’t in my job description, I just started doing things that created value for people in my own way which allowed me to mould this role. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. I got a job at Goldman Sachs with 29 IB points. Grades are important but they aren’t the be all and end all – your will, determination, and drive matter just as much.”

 

Lola Faura Práxedes – Graduated 2014 

Lola is now a professional Food Stylist, Drink Stylist and Home Economist based in London, after training as a professional chef at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France.

“Aloha College was my home from Year 1 all the way to Year 13 and I can’t believe that it has been almost 9 years since I graduated! I have thought a lot about what to write in this piece, and although the most natural thing to do is to explain my journey post Aloha. However, I wanted to show you more. I want to let you know the two most important things Aloha College gave me and that I am sure it will give to your child too.

Opening the doors to the world.

Aloha enabled me to grow in a multicultural international environment, and ultimately seek to continue living that experience after graduation. I, like many of my former classmates, was never afraid to travel, to move abroad, to start my life again in a new city, and I often asked myself why? Why were others who I met in university or later in life more sceptical about change than I was? It really all came down to Aloha. Growing up surrounded by friends whose families had travelled the world is essentially like engraving in your child’s mind that they can build their home anywhere in the world. That their friends can come from and be found in any and every country they travel to. I guess this is why I didn’t think twice before moving to Sydney, which is pretty much on the other side of the world, or why later I had no problem moving my business to London when Covid occurred and I could no longer stay in Australia. Life is an endlessly changing beautiful thing in which sometimes you get to choose to make a change, and sometimes the circumstances push you to make one. In both scenarios I felt privileged of what Aloha had given me: the mindset that anywhere in the world can be home.

You can be The Best mindset.

Aloha is the most unique and personalised form of education that I have ever received. After completing a University Degree, a Masters, and other online courses I can truthfully say that none of it compared to Aloha. The teachers at Aloha are devoted to their students, they truly care about each one of them and there is no better proof of this than the fact that many of us keep in touch with our former teachers and visit the school when we can to see them. At Aloha every child will have all the tools they need to find what makes them unique. They will be pushed to excel; to be the best. This mindset can seem like a lot to be placing into a child’s mind, but I cannot be thankful enough for it. Pushing for more, working hard to achieve the highest goals is truly a life changing mindset that makes anything possible. It has travelled with me all the way from university, through my first working years in the corporate world, and now as a business owner with the freedom to work for myself in something I truly love and am passionate about.

 

So, in all, Thank You Aloha. I would not be me without you.”

 

Sandra Overgaard – Graduated 2003 

Sandra, one of our former head students, is now a parent of two Aloha College children, Olivia and Hugo, in years 7 and 4 respectively.

“I don’t just think of Aloha College as the school that I attended for 11 years. During my time there, Aloha subconsciously became more like a guiding voice in my head that still to this day is present. Naturally there are parallels that can be drawn from my education sown at Aloha to what I have harvested of benefits useful in my current day-to-day business life. As I start my day by fastening my surgical hat carefully tucking in my hair, I hear Mr. Burnett somewhere lurking. There is no forgetting how it was impossible to sneak unbrushed hair or an untucked shirt by Mr Burnett’s peering eyes. He stood tall at the entrance gate as he non-discreetly scanned pupils stepping off the bus every morning. His loud “Good morning” salute drummed and his authoritarian voice immediately made you automatically walk just that bit more upright. I remember squinting sideways with a sigh when hearing his favourite phrase “If you look smart, you will think smart”. Yet, it resides with me to this day and I am reluctant to admit that I have found myself huddle my 12 employees together at both my dental practices and repeating that same exact phrase to make sure they looked and therefore felt part of the team spirit that I wanted to convey. Studying first at the University of Copenhagen and later at Copenhagen Business School I found I had a recurrent advantage compared to other students not having undergone a British international schooling. Be it juggling Excel functions at high speeds learnt through one of our school Cambridge courses or giving a speech in front of my peers translating in all of my three fluent languages without hesitation. I believe that I still carry on many of the same principles that were at times hard earned and learned but after much reflection shown to be valuable. From my much-loathed drama lessons where our good willed Mrs.Dunkley made me overcome my natural shyness to my strong determination to never give up through Mr. Baldwins’ many cross-country runs.

As my last act as head girl at Speech Day I carried out an idea that I had brewed since the beginning of IB. I wanted to acknowledge all the teachers from 6th form by individually presenting and decorating them with a much-deserved rosette. Despite being young and inexperienced, I was aware of the infectious passion with which the teachers had taught their subjects and how their encouragement and inspiration had meant a great deal. It is subsequently oddly surreal to only last week attend parents’ meetings and be transported 30 years back in time where I once again find myself sat across from one of my enthusiastic teachers. However, the teacher who once was my teacher is now my son’s. Not surprisingly, there are still a good handful of teachers who I had the privilege of being taught by who are still going strong making their mark at Aloha. The new teachers I have encountered are definitely up to par and continue the same aura that Aloha is known for.

Today it is Mrs. Batchelor who carries the baton and welcomes the parents, teachers and students alike by the school gates in the morning with her contagious energy and incredulous hands-on dedication to continue to modernise and lift Aloha College to “be its best”. Obvious to everyone, the children adore her and the parents are equally delighted and eager to greet her. She always keeps us parents chuckling in assemblies and she will be the residing voice in my son’s and daughter’s head in years to come.”

 

Millie Bobby Brown

Some of our graduating class from 2022 perhaps remember when they were in the nursery class together in 2008? One of their classmates has now become an internationally famous actor; Millie Bobby Brown. Her family returned to England at the end of that school year, before they eventually moved to Florida, when Millie was eight years old.  Millie was launched to fame in the role of Eleven, in the Netflix sci-fi horror series, Stranger Things.

Millie Bobby Brown in the junior school class photo of 2008 and posing with current pupil Thor Kaste.

As always, you are welcome to come and visit us, and if you would like to share your experiences with our current pupils, that would be a fabulous way for you to give something back. Just let us know that you are willing to come in. Stay in touch and take care.

Mr Kevin Wade

alumni@aloha-college.com 

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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.

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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.
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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! 
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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.