There is an ancient Japanese proverb that reads,
"Better than a thousand days of diligent study, is one day with a great teacher."
Great teachers like the one in our latest teacher profile, are to be treasured.
In this blog, we will bring the gem that is Ms Julie Yarnall into focus. We are privileged to boast a teacher of her stature and calibre on our faculty team and in the next few paragraphs, we will explain why.
Ms Julie is an experienced IELTS examiner. She has taught thousands of students and has over three decades of teaching experience behind her. Before moving over to join us at ME Education, Ms Julie worked for the English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong for over twenty years. She has been a Head of Middle School (Years 9-11) and a Faculty Head.
When it comes to examinations, students will do well to have Ms Julie on their side. She has the experience of teaching English for IGCSE, A ‘Level, IB, HKDSE, and IELTS examinations. She is also well versed with the curriculums of IB (PYP and MYP), English National Curriculum (Key Stages 1-5) and local HK systems. For younger students she can help them prepare for school tests and other exams such as Cambridge Starters, KET and PET.
Impressive qualifications and a seasoned history of experience aside, there is something else that makes Ms Julie even more of a treasured asset to ME Education. Ms Julie is the mother of two children who were educated in Hong Kong international schools.
Her experience of schools, exams as well as the student and parent experience is first-hand! This gives her a unique insight and appreciation into the entire process from start to finish. Ms Julie knows the inner workings of the education system and she uses her knowledge to help her students achieve the highest levels of success. For example, when preparing for school interviews, Ms Julie knows that although schools want to hear about the student’s accomplishments, they also want to hear about their personal qualities and aspirations. It’s important for students to be able to articulate these and Ms Julie shows them how.
For younger children, interviewers want to see that they are able to follow instructions and that they can interact with adults. Ms Julie coaches them on how to impress the interviewers by demonstrating a love of books and stories.
When students are asked to complete a creative writing task as part of their school application, Ms Julie emphasises that it should not just be a transactional retelling of events. While the interviewers are looking for accuracy, they are also looking for an understanding of language and how students can communicate an experience through an awareness of their senses and use of figurative language. Ms Julie knows all these details and by teaching her students to anticipate deeper levels of the assessment process, she is better able to arm them with the skills they need to become independent learners.
There is a lot that goes into exam prep, coursework assignments and even day-to-day homework. Ms Julie knows what’s expected of the students but she also understands the challenges they face in meeting these expectations at times. Her unique vantage point can be a life-raft for students who can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the workload. Her support and encouragement is invaluable and many of her students credit that support for their success.
Rosa, a former student of Ms Julie’s, wrote to thank her for all the help and guidance offered in preparation for her HKU interview. Rosa told Ms Julie,
"When I thought of what you told me, I felt much calmer and more confident, especially in the individual interview. You are really a great teacher!"
Rosa aced her interview, doing so well that she was offered 20 bonus points. That’s the largest number of bonus points offered to all the applicants! Rosa recognises how crucial Ms Julie’s guidance and support was to her success and says she would not have been able to achieve such heights without Ms Julie behind her.
Another student, Chloe, studied her IB Course with Ms Julie and worked with her on her HKU Application. Chloe sent Ms Julie her heartfelt thanks stating,
"I’m now officially a Year 1 Law student at the University of Hong Kong! Words cannot express how thankful I feel for having you as my teacher to guide me along the way and help me with so much patience. Without you, I could not have improved so much during the last five years!"
It’s not just the students who find value in Ms Julie’s experience. It’s parents too. Ms Julie helps many parents navigate their way through innumerable school emails, Zoom lessons and this year’s most challenging obstacle – home schooling. She understands the hurdles parents have to master in order to help their children achieve their goals. She also appreciates the stress this can induce especially when English is not their first language.
Ms Julie even offers adult lessons to help with English conversation, English in the workplace, writing CV’s and interview practice.
When asked to describe her teaching style, Ms Julie believes she is "firm but fair". She pours her heart into her work and is always prepared for her lessons. She expects the same approach from her students.
Ms Julie has a favourite proverb too. Hers is originally Chinese and is translated to mean:
"Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself."
This encapsulates Ms Julie’s approach to education. Her guidance doesn’t end when the students leave the classroom. She instills a sense of independence and self-reliance in them by showing them how capable they are on their own. Ms Julie believes wholeheartedly that in addition to opening the door, a skillful teacher knows which door to open, and when.
At times, students will need to open their own doors, Ms Julie gives them the keys to do just that!