As a mum of two and a full-time carer to her disabled daughter, Julie Mortimer has overcome significant challenges to fulfil her ambition of becoming a primary school teacher.
As a distance learning student in the PGDE DLITE* (Primary) programme, Julie has had to balance the demands of teacher training with her responsibilities as a carer to nine-year-old daughter Naomi, who requires round-the clock care.
On top of this, Julie continued to work as a family support worker throughout her studies, which created a hectic schedule that nearly saw her give up on her dream. But despite these challenges, she will be among hundreds of delighted students who graduate from the University of Aberdeen today.
Julie, who was born in Glasgow and grew up in Inverness, said: “My eldest daughter is profoundly disabled, partially sighted, non-mobile, non-verbal, and tube-fed for 18 hours every day. She also has an erratic sleep pattern but a beautiful smile that lights up my world!
“During my time on the PGDE course she had a few serious admissions into hospital, as well as contact with numerous hospital clinics and co-ordinating services to ensure she gets the appropriate medical care.
“Because I was on the distance learning programme I continued my role with Angus Council as a family support worker, so in the evenings I was often studying until very late.
“At times I was exhausted and felt the mountain was too high to climb with the amount of work I had to juggle.
“Luckily I had lots of encouragement from friends and family, particularly my husband Michael and my mum who have kept me going when life has been very difficult and challenging.”
As well as the support of her family and friends, Julie’s obvious passion for teaching was another major motivating factor that helped her stay the course. This was only enhanced during her teaching placement at a primary school close to her home in Kirriemuir, Angus.
“When out on placement, I had such positive experiences and very encouraging feedback from staff and children alike.
“I loved being in the class teaching, and it is truly rewarding to see each child’s learning journey and the difference it makes to their life.
“I have been very fortunate to be asked back to my placement school after the holidays. It is close to where I live, the staff are great, and I’ve already had the privilege of meeting my P1 class along with my job share partner for next year.”
Reflecting on her learning experience over the past 18 months, Julie said: “My passion, drive and determination to achieve my goal of becoming a primary teacher has enabled to achieve the diploma and it was an exhilarating feeling to complete the course.
“Next month I will be celebrating my 40th birthday. They say that life begins at 40, and I’m now looking forward to the next chapter of my life as a primary school teacher.”
*Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Distance Learning Initial Teacher Education)