Nerissa Gunduz

Associate Assistant Principal, The Hathaway Academy

My career journey has taken me all over the world and ultimately taught me that passion and determination can open doors! This is something that I work tirelessly to instil in my students and the team I lead. This philosophy has also enabled me to overcome personal challenges, helped me in eliminating self-doubt and optimise the potential of others.  

My teaching career began in my native South Africa. Growing up in a divided country meant that despite hard work my career opportunities were limited. My early life was further complicated by the tragic, untimely death of my father, my role model, during my GCSE year. 

Personal reflection convinced me that I had more to give than my country could offer. I decided to go and teach in the USA for a year.  It was my first experience of working in a multicultural school and I embraced that opportunity.  After a year, filled with enthusiasm and a new perspective on life, I returned to my country to impart what I had learned abroad.   

However, my enthusiasm was short lived. Whilst my country had moved on, there were  very limited opportunities available and these were not available to myself.  After considerable thought I made the decision to leave my beloved country and move to the UK. Here I faced new challenges but the praise and support I received enabled me to thrive in all situations and make a positive difference to all the students that I work with.  

My son was born in 2012 and my daughter in 2015. Being a working mum is challenging as it involves balancing work demands with family priorities but I am determined to give my children all the opportunities that I never had.  This usually means 18hour days but it is worth every bit of chaos. 

Working for ATT has opened up even more opportunities. I have met some inspirational people who have encouraged me to continue with my professional journey.  Their support and belief in me has helped me to successfully complete my NPQSL and NPQLT recently.   

I am fortunate enough to work with amazing colleagues at The Hathaway Academy under an inspirational Headteacher who is always encouraging us to strive for excellence by challenging us to be the best versions of ourselves.