Parent Newsletter 5 June

Dear parents,


This week started with the exciting news of Anatoly Praslov, Year 7, winning the Spanish nationals in karate. He demonstrated some kata moves in my office and, quite honestly, I was scared!

Congratulations, Anatoly, you did Aloha College proud. I look forward one day to seeing you in the Olympics!  Thank you for sharing all your knowledge –  I learnt so much.

Sisterly love
I am the baby in my family of 3 sisters. My middle sister is the executive Headteacher of 3 Secondary schools and 1 Primary school in the UK. My oldest sister, now retired, was the Business Manager of a large Primary school in the UK. On Saturday afternoons we get together on Google meet and spend at least an hour talking about teaching, learning, children, and education in general. I really enjoy sharing our school’s accomplishments with them and comparing who leads the best school. Of course I am always the winner! I listen and learn – even at my age I am still a learner!  We then spend another half hour just laughing about anything!  

Another point I am making here is the importance of our family connections. No matter how far away from our families we live, we should keep the communication flowing. Enjoy your families always. 

Karol Willmer – Music teacher
Although the end of term has not yet arrived, I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank-you to Mrs Karol Willmer.

Most parents of Secondary pupils will know Karol as our previous Head of Creative Arts Department. She took early retirement in June 2018, planning to enjoy more time with her husband and family. The following academic year, the Music teacher left us in December and, despite all our efforts, we were unable to appoint a suitably-qualified replacement. We therefore asked Karol to come out of retirement and return to teach our children. With all her previous passion she has done just this. She is an amazing teacher, dedicated and committed. I just wanted to thank Karol publicly for her service to our school, as “once again” she will retire at the end of this month to enjoy time with her family, as planned. Thank you, Karol.

We have appointed another excellent Music teacher who will join us in September from a very good school in Dubai.

Road safety
One Primary parent has asked me if I can remind you all of the dangers of dropping off your children on the road. Please be careful, this road gets busy!

I wish you and your families a wonderful weekend.

 (There will be no Parent Newsletter next weekend as you will all be enjoying the San Bernabé holiday on Friday 11 June – SCHOOL WILL BE CLOSED)


Your children keep me young!

This week Alejandro Fernandez Gonzalez in Year 2, Miss Kate’s class, demonstrated to me how to sword fence! He recently took part in the San Roque International Fencing Tournament (following strict Covid protocols) and received a certificate of participation and a trophy. Congratulations Alejandro! 

Year 6
I have been so proud of our Year 6 pupils who have returned to their classes with gusto following their transition days in the Secondary School. They are so mature and diplomatic and when I ask them if they prefer Primary to Secondary, their answer is always “We are very excited to go to Secondary but we love our Primary School!” Lovely traits to have.

This week Honey Holmes (5SJD) made me two beautiful tasty biscuits which I shared with my friend Susan. A big thank you, Honey, they were delicious!

She was accompanied by her friend, Dina Gzouli, when she brought them to my office.

Children’s Work
Scarlett Zagozdzon from Year 5 in Miss Dickie’s class displayed some excellent Maths work this week – it even challenged Mr Escobar’s mathematical brain!! Miss Dickie is also very proud of Laura Windhagauer and Lana El-Rais’ work as they spent a lot of time at home completing some lovely Maths revision. Well done girls!

Martina Gonzalez, Navia Moreno and Zoe Carbajo from Reception, Miss Janine’s class, have been learning in Spanish about what measures we can take to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays. I am sure they will be telling their mummies and daddies what to do when they go to the beach this summer!

Also in Janine’s class, Cataleya created a house with a sun with a note attached explaining how much she loves her Mum, Dad and brother.

In Miss Emma’s reception class there has been some amazing independent writing, in particular by Manuel Méndez. Well done, Manuel!

Do you remember having one of these as a child?  Milo Mason-Browning’s kaleidoscope will bring back memories for lots of us – thank you for sharing your lovely creation with us, Milo.

Early Morning Drop Off
Once again can I remind all parents that if you bring your children to school earlier than 8:40 h you need to stay with them until the gates open. Some children are being left very early without supervision. Like you, we want your children to be as safe as they can be.

Fun Days
As you have been informed or will be soon, we have agreed a special event for each year group. All trips or activities will follow our strict Covid guidelines. The children are very excited and we hope they will have a great time!

Feria Day Celebration – Thursday 10 June
Message from Don Diego:

““Due to our current Covid situation, we are unable to celebrate Feria Day in our traditional Aloha manner. However, as Head of the Primary Spanish Department, I and the whole Spanish team want to create a festive atmosphere to celebrate this special day together with the children. When they arrive at school on Thursday 10 June they will be accompanied by lovely flamenco music and the celebrations will continue throughout the day while continuing to follow our strict protocol. If you wish your child to wear any item of traditional Spanish dress e.g. an Andalusian hat, a fan, flamenco earrings, a sash, a flower, this would be lovely to see! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me”.

I have a lovely red flower to wear in my head!! 🌹

We would like to remind parents that the school will be closed on Friday 11 June.

I hope you have a lovely weekend with your families.

June’s Personal Learning Goal – TO BE REFLECTIVE (THINKER)
Next week’s Aloha Value  – HONESTY

Elizabeth Batchelor


Dear Parents,

Gerardo, our lab technician, sent me an email earlier this week with a photo attached. It was a letter written by Albert Camus after winning the nobel prize. Here it is:

Dear Monsieur Germain,

I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honour, one I neither sought nor solicited. But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened. I don’t make too much of this sort of honour. But at least it gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart.

Albert Camus, 19 November 1957

In this letter, Camus recognised the impact that his former primary school teacher had on him. Isn’t it wonderful? We all feel happy when someone expresses their gratitude to us. Few things are more important in life than showing gratitude! 

The term gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. It is an appreciation of what a person receives, be it tangible or intangible. Research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with feeling happier. It helps people feel more positive, relish good experiences and build strong relationships.

When I think about the things I am grateful for I normally go for the very general things such as my family and friends. I never focus on anything specific. For example, instead of saying ”I am thankful for my job”, I could replace it with “I am thankful for being able to sit here and write this newsletter while I look at some of the photos and students’ art work I have in my office” (this thought has suddenly put a smile on my face!).

I encourage you, your children and our staff to take a gratitude challenge, which consists of writing three things each day for which you are thankful. These should be specific, not general. Let’s see if there are any positive results by the end of the month!

I hope you have a nice weekend and thank you very much for reading my newsletters.

Francisco Escobar
Head of Secondary

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.

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.
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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.
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.
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!
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! 
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.