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10 questions with Tom Collins

04 March 2016

Meet Tom Collins, one of our respected science teachers at the British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park. His high energy has invigorated his students’ love for science. We sat down with Tom for a quick interview about himself, his experience as an expat in Chicago and being a Nord Anglia Education teacher.  

  • Science teacher Tom Collins holds measuring tape for grade 2 student in a lesson on using standard measuring units.
  • Tom Collins is a science teacher at the British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park
Name: Tom Collins
Country of Residence: Chicago, Illinois--USA
Country of Origin: UK
Subjects I teach: Science
Grades I teach: K-5
Places I've lived: Oita, Japan; London, UK; Chicago, USA

  1. What is the best thing about being a teacher?

The best thing about being a teacher is when the children have those “ah-ha” moments. They are often involuntary and are that affirmation for me that they are learning. I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to broaden children’s horizons and raise their consciousness. Science is a great subject to do that with as it goes much of the way to explain how the world works. I feel confident that through teaching, my colleagues and I are offering the opportunities to children to really make a difference in the world and to have impactful careers.

  1. What sort of advice can you give to parents moving to a new city with children?

When moving to a new city take some time to explore what the city has on offer. Look around at all the possible activities you can do as a family and plan a month or two of discovering. Treat those first few months as a vacation (with the benefit of living there) and learn your way around.

  1. Why did you choose Nord Anglia Education to expand your career?

My main drive for choosing NAE was the career development opportunities it offers its staff. Since joining the NAE family I have connected with colleagues all around the world through Nord Anglia University. Through NAU, I have attended training seminars across the USA and I have had the opportunity to work with prestigious institutions. All of these experiences have given me clear career benefits which I wouldn’t have had if I had not chosen to join NAE.

  1. How does NAE compare to other schools you’ve taught at?

I’ve taught at two schools prior to the British International School, Lincoln Park: Oita Minami Senior High School (in Japan) and Unicorn Primary School (in the UK). Both gave me incredible insights and experiences which helped shape me into the educator I am today. Both schools had high expectations of their pupils and also their staff, so coming to NAE was a smooth and logical transition. I work best when I have high expectations set and I know that my pupils do too.

  1. Your one advice for students moving/living abroad.

Learn some of the language of your host country and get out there and ask questions.

  1. What is the one lesson that you want your students to take away with them at the end of the academic year?

That anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

  1. Your one advice for parents moving/living abroad.

Make the most of every opportunity that comes up, you never know when the next move might come.

  1. Why did you become an educator?

Becoming an educator was, for me, the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition. Along the way I changed my mind many times as to what I wanted to do from baker, to actor, to micro-biologist. In the end it always came back to education. I feel my career is more than a job, more than work, it is a lifestyle. I can’t go somewhere and not think “How can I use that in a lesson?”

  1. Your favourite quote when it comes to education.

“Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.” Miss Frizzle (from the Magic School Bus)

  1. What does it mean to YOU to be a teacher?

Being a teacher means having the opportunity to equip children with the skills and knowledge to get out there in the world and have a meaningful impact. Children entering school at 3-4 years old won’t be working for almost another 20 years. The jobs they will be going for don’t exist at present so it is a teacher’s job to hone the skills that they will need, in order to give them an advantage for their future.