Corby's skateboarding lecturer Steph shortlisted for prestigious teaching award

Steph teaches art and design at Tresham College’s Corby and Kettering sites

By Sam Wildman
Monday, 28th March 2022, 12:42 pm

A skateboarding college lecturer who goes above and beyond for students has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Steph Lee Vae, from Corby, teaches art and design at Tresham College’s Kettering and Corby campuses and set up a YouTube channel in lockdown.

It provided video tutorials and digital workshops for students to access and revisit at their own pace and has now developed into an integrated part of lessons.

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Steph Lee Vae

The non-binary lecturer also holds virtual drop-ins for students who need to catch up during the holidays – all alongside being a well-known skateboarder and voluntary coach at Adrenaline Alley.

Now Steph is in the running to be named FE Lecturer of the Year in the prestigious Pearson National Teaching Awards.

Nicola Mansell, the college’s head of art and design, said: “Steph consistently goes above and beyond - there are so many examples I could give you.

"Steph enables a very collaborative working environment and the students are really engaged. Graphics has very high levels of achievement and student feedback is always positive.”

The college said Steph’s boundless energy and ideas and drive the extensive list of opportunities they provide for students.

In terms of student achievements, Steph’s courses have a track record of 100 per cent retention and achievement over the past few years with 80 per cent achieving a Merit or Distinction on the Level 3 course. Last year, 87.5 per cent of Level 2 students progressed on to another course at the college and 100 per cent of the Level 3 graphics students progressed into year two.

Steph is an active member of The Bedford College Group’s LGBTQ+ Committee who were awarded Gold by Stonewall for their LGBTQ+ inclusive education work. Steph is also the LGBTQ+ ambassador for the art and design department and an advocate for ensuring all students feel safe and included.

Petra Williams, director of quality, learning, teaching and assessment, said: “Steph is an exceptional lecturer and absolutely deserves to win this award. Steph is so dedicated to providing the best experience for each student on the course. The work they did to develop Art Mesh creative arts magazine through the group’s ‘Risk it’ system is an example of best practice in the sector and provides exceptional international opportunities for students to publish their work.”

This academic year Steph faced one of the most tragic situations that a teacher can ever deal with. Lee, a terminally ill student who joined the course in September 2021, died on December 23, 2021. No amount of teacher training can ever prepare a lecturer for these circumstances, yet Steph met the challenge with the utmost empathy and compassion, making it their mission to ensure that Lee’s last months at College were the best they could possibly be and ensuring he achieved some life-time goals. From fun fancy dress days, to helping Lee set up a GoFundMe bucket list page, to organising an aegrotat award for Distinction which was presented to Lee before he died. Steph involved the whole class, ensuring they were all fully supported and that counselling was available. The impact of Steph’s care for Lee was deeply appreciated by his family and they asked Steph to write part of the eulogy for Lee’s funeral.