Personally speaking - 'I formed an anti-racism rap group'

28th January 2011 at 00:00
Amer Sheikh is a chemistry teacher at Thornhill School, Sunderland. He founded an anti-racism rap group, The Word, with pupils at the school five years ago

Who has been your biggest influence?

My wife, Kelly, and our kids Jamal and Leila, as they inspire me to keep going. I have also taken some low points from the past and hopefully used them to influence and affect me in a positive way.

What has been your career high so far?

To be able to share the passion of teaching chemistry at Thornhill School and having taken the opportunity to combine my love of rap music and performance to form an anti-racism group with my science students.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

Being on the receiving end of racial abuse. It was during my PGCE year at a school in the North East. But I used that to motivate me to perform to over 85,000 young people all across the UK about respect for difference.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

"Feel your feelings." This has helped me in the past when things weren't going that great.

What is the most outrageous thing you have ever seen a colleague do?

I saw a colleague jump in the pool in his suit and shoes to rescue a pupil. Good for him and the Year 7 boy.

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

I would love to be in the next lane to Usain Bolt in the 2012 Olympics 100m final (and take his world record).

What do you do on a Friday evening?

For 15 years I was a bouncer at a nightclub, so weekends were spent making sure my students didn't get in. Now it's all about Kelly, Jamal and Leila, with Chinese food, drink and cartoons. Things don't get better than that.

What car do you drive?

I don't. I rely on the 6am bus and the Metro system to travel from Newcastle to Sunderland.

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

Butlins with my wife and kids. Minehead in Somerset is pretty, relaxing and the holiday resort is awesome.

What was the last book you read?

I wish I could finally finish Obama's Dreams from My Father. It was a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. Obama is my idol - I can really relate to him.

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