World of experience leads teacher back to Scotland

Laurene with Skipness pupils Joseph, Zac and Heleana. Picture: Moira Kerr.
Laurene with Skipness pupils Joseph, Zac and Heleana. Picture: Moira Kerr.
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A teacher who had to travel the world to kickstart her career has landed her dream job back home in Argyll.

When Laurene McIntosh, of Carradale, graduated 13 years ago there were no local teaching vacancies, so she vowed to go “anywhere in Scotland” for work.

Finding only temporary teaching jobs north of the Border, she moved to England for her first permanent post.

Her career ladder then led her to the United States, Russia and Brazil, from where she flew 6,000 miles for the interview which clinched her new role, as head of Skipness and Clachan primary schools in Argyll.

Skipness has just three primary school pupils, compared with Sao Paulo state in Brazil, with a population of more than 11.5 million, where she last taught.

Laurene, 34, said: “Teaching was all I ever wanted to do, I never considered anything else. When I was at primary school I even used to play at being a teacher at playtime. But when I came out of college the job situation was dire. I didn’t want to be unemployed, so I started applying for jobs anywhere.”

After a couple of temporary jobs in Aberdeenshire, she moved to take up a permanent post in Lincolnshire.

Laurene then went to a state school in one of the most deprived areas of Atlanta, Georgia, before going on to Moscow, where she met her husband Jim Cretton, who was working there as a teaching assistant.

When she was 31, the couple moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, after she was offered the post of Head of Early Years at a new school.

In their school holidays the couple travelled extensively, taking in such places as Easter Island in the South Pacific.

Laurene’s career has not been without challenges. “At the school in Atlanta some of the children were born addicted to drugs,” she said. “Then Hurricane Katrina happened and we got pupils displaced by that.” She added: “On the first day I was in floods of tears because it was so different to what I had been used to. But I was there two years and I loved it, I wouldn’t change that part of my life.

“I travelled to 24 states in America while I was there.”

As for Russia, Laurene said: “They had six months of snow and as pretty as it looked, when you looked out the window and it was sparkling, you went out and it was minus 38. I remember icicles forming on my eyelashes.”

The couple were married in the garden of Laurene’s parents’ home in Carradale, Argyll. But, after moving to Brazil, her thoughts turned firmly to home.

Laurene said: “We had got married and I wanted to start my own family. I remembered my nan and granddad had played a big part in my life and I wanted my parents to play a big part in my children’s life.

“Then I saw the job advertised for Clachan and Skipness and flew from Brazil for the interview. I started my new job last month and absolutely love it here in Argyll. I can’t stop taking photos of the scenery.”