Inspirational blind Doncaster teacher scoops major nationwide teaching award
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Simon Wheatcroft, who teaches Computer Science at Outwood Academy Adwick won top prize at the Pearson National Teaching Awards.
Ultramarathon runner Simon, who was born with a genetic eye disorder which resulted in him becoming blind at age 17, said: “It is an incredibly proud moment for me to have been shortlisted at arguably the teaching profession’s most respected awards.”
Simon’s story is truly a remarkable one.
At the age of 13, a routine eye test located a problem with his retina and was told he was losing his sight. Four years later, he was registered blind.
Instead of being defeated by this, Simon used it as fuel to feed his desire and determination to overcome the challenges he faced.
This is typified by the fact that in 2016 he became the first ever blind person to run, solo, an ultramarathon in the Namibian desert, and two years previously he also ran in the New York Marathon unaided.
Not content with just completing the marathon on his trip, Simon ran from Boston to New York, a distance of over 230 miles, ahead of the marathon.
Simon’s insistence on visiting Boston was down to his strong desire to visit the HQ of RunKeeper, the organisation behind the technology that allows him to train solo.
It is Simon’s passion for technology that helps him flourish in the classroom, as well as when out training.
Having initially trained to teach with Teach North, part of the Outwood Institute of Education, Simon has spoken previously about how technology helped him take to teaching.
Simon added: “My decision to train to teach was due to a true love for technology - I have been fortunate enough to experience its transformative power.
"To be able to introduce the remarkable things technology is capable of and inspire the next generation of technologists to develop the world is an exciting prospect.”
Simon’s work at his current school hasn’t gone unnoticed, with the school’s principal full of praise for the impact Simon has had not only on the students, but the staff as well.
Outwood Academy Adwick Principal, Andy Scruby, said: “We are over the moon that Simon has won this fantastic accolade. This is a brilliant achievement and one he undoubtedly deserves.
“Ever since Simon walked through the doors here at Outwood Academy Adwick, he has been both a source of inspiration and a pillar of support for both students and staff. Anyone who has witnessed one of his lessons will agree that he gets students to engage and interact with the subject, a true teaching skill.”
Simon added: “The truth of it is that I love teaching. The students are fantastic, and the relationships that have been forged leave me with a smile on my face when I leave the academy every day.
“When a student connects with a lesson I deliver, it is an incredible feeling and motivates me to improve my practice every day.
“The fact I am able to teach and work in communities I know, helping to have an impact on the lives of children is a truly rewarding feeling.”
Sir Martyn Oliver, Chief Executive Officer at Outwood Grange Academies Trust, which leads Outwood Academy Adwick, added: “We are all very proud of Simon. He is a great teacher much loved by his students – he is truly inspirational.”