An Interview with Ms Dos Santos

Marymount P.E. and Sports Science Teacher


Ms Dos Santos


Tell us a bit about yourself.

So I’m Ms Dos Santos, I’m from England and I’ve been teaching for about eleven years. In between that time I have had two children. I have mainly taught in the state sector, in both all girls and mixed schools. I have taught in schools where there are 2000 students and I’ve taught in schools where there are 500 students. I love sports, it is something I’ve always been very passionate about. I played tennis till a very high level but then I injured my back and had to stop so that was pretty sad. I was born in Oxford, I grew up in Devon on a farm.


What was growing up on a farm like?

It was good, I loved it! There was lots of space and lots of animals. I had a pony and I would go horse-riding on the weekends. It was really nice but I needed to get out, it was a bit too quiet. I wanted more interaction and I was very excited to go to the city.


What about sports? Is it something you were very passionate about growing up?

Yes, it’s always been part of my life but my parents never pushed me to do sports. I just really enjoyed it. I played netball and basketball in school and just seemed to be okay at it. My year group at school was also very sporty so I think it kind of came hand-in-hand.


How did you get into teaching?

I never wanted to be a teacher. I actually wanted to be a doctor so I started my medical degree and then had to stop it because someone very close to me became very ill and I had to come out of the degree to help them. And then when it came to going back to my undergraduate I didn’t think it was right for me anymore. I kind of nursed the ill lady in a way and brought her back to health, not just me, others as well. I realised that exercise and sports were something that really helped her mentally, I felt like she could deal with life again. And I thought, well, I like sports and so I decided to try and do an undergraduate in sports sciences and see if I like it and I did. I went with the flow and did personal training for a while, I thought that’s what I wanted to do. I also took some time out and went traveling and then entered teaching in my early 20s and it all fell into place. For me, teaching is a form of escapism from my little children at home.


You mentioned you wanted to pursue medicine when you were in high school and even began your medical degree. What was your favourite subject at school, was it sport or science?

English was actually my favourite subject because I had a phenomenal teacher. She was just fab and back when I was at school, teachers were quite traditional and it was all chalk and talk. You would just be there listening, and there was no such thing as a teacher-student relationship. My English teacher was very young so her lessons were always very interesting and practical and she made us laugh so much. We were a challenging group but she did really well so English was my favourite but PE was a close second.


What is your favourite thing about teaching PE?

My favourite thing about teaching PE is seeing children smile. I like to see them not sitting down behind a desk but being themselves and I do think they tend to let loose and be who they really are when they are doing PE because it is not assessed and there aren’t any exams. They can just come in, have fun, talk and have a laugh. There aren’t many boundaries that need to be overcome and in PE, there is a sport for everyone, be it netball, tennis or even dance. I really think we need to encourage children to understand that there is something for them in PE and everyone’s welcome.


What would you say is your favourite sport (to play and to teach)?

I like playing tennis. I’m not very good at being in a team, I find it quite tricky. I like to be on my own when I’m actually competing in a sport. Teaching wise, I really like fitness and gym and I like teaching children about nutrition and the health benefits of that.


You are new to the Marymount community. What compelled you to come here?

I didn’t think I was going to come back to teaching actually. In fact, I stepped out of it for the second time to have my second child two years ago and I went back into personal training. My husband put a gym together for me in my garden and I was training a lot of mums. They could bring their children and train but something was missing. I didn’t know what it was so I went and did some agency work at a school in Chiswick and I realised this is it, this is what’s missing. I need to go out to work. I felt more me and not just a mum when I was teaching. I saw this job and it looked lovely so I applied and when I came in, I loved it. Marymount is a beautiful school, there’s no doubt about that. The girls that I teach are so wonderful and so is the department. I feel very happy and lucky to be here.


How has your experience at Marymount been so far and what has been your favourite memory?

My favourite memory is teaching grade sixes in the volleyball club. For instance, these two, one didn’t like sports and the other struggled in other areas, but they came alive in volleyball and that’s what sport can do, it can bring out characters in people that they don’t usually see or sometimes even suppress. For me seeing students happy is my favourite thing about Marymount. I also feel very at home here. Even though I have only been here for a little while, I feel so welcomed by all the staff and students. I do love the feisty girls as well because they remind me ‘why do we teach?’ It’s not all about ‘yes miss’, and ‘no miss’. We’ve got character, we’ve got something about ourselves and I like that. That comes through in PE.


PE is an extremely enjoyable subject but many girls can develop a fear of sports. What advice would you give to these girls to help them overcome their fears and/or insecurities?

I would say that there is a home for you in sport. It can be running on the treadmill or even picking up some weights. It doesn’t have to be in a competitive context. You have girls that don’t do well in team sports but they can answer a question incredibly well. It is all about feeling at home and finding ways that you can excel and feel comfortable in sports. And that is changing and evolving as well. Now, sport is also about stuff that you can take with you. It’s learning about eating habits and fuelling your body right or doing a workout at home and feeling proud of yourself.


You mentioned before that you took a break to travel and explore the world around you. What has been your best traveling experience so far?

Right now, my best traveling experience would be with my family. I have done a lot of traveling alone when I was young but I have done a lot more with my children now. My best holiday would be Florida, Miami, and Orlando. You know, Disneyland and all the happy memories! However, if you are young and want to travel, go to Fiji. It is a phenomenal place, especially if you like snorkelling and diving. The culture there is great as well and the people are so friendly and warm. You learn about the basics, that you don’t need all this material stuff to keep yourself happy.


What inspires you the most in life?

My children. As long as they’re proud of me and happy, that’s all that matters to me.


What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I have done five skydives. I have climbed quite a few mountains. I have done the London marathon. I have given birth to two children without pain relief, that’s quite hard-going. I was also on junior Masterchef back when I was thirteen. I applied, I got on and I was even on tv. I didn’t get through because I messed up my sauces, I didn’t put the gelatine in the right place, it was all a bit of a mess but I met Loyd Grossman. So yeah, I love cooking and really like reading as well. I also enjoy cycling and cycle to work every day which is a total of sixteen miles per day.


You mentioned you liked reading. What is a book you think every girl should read?

I have got many but ‘The Beekeeper of the Aleppo’ is a phenomenal book and it is very relevant. It is something that will hit a lot of girls and positively affect them. Also ‘We’re All Strong Women,’ that’s a lovely book. I have got two girls and the book is about raising strong women and help them understand that no one is perfect, no one wants to be perfect and that life is about enjoying yourself. Don’t worry about what happens if you don’t do well, just keeping going!