We learn more about Mme Wanrille Bates in this week's Teacher Feature.
What is your role at College?
I’m a French teacher and Housemistress of Queen’s.
What did you do before you came to College?
I graduated in Paris with a Master’s degree in English literature, language, and civilisation with a specialisation in American media studies. I then failed my entrance exam to work in subtitles for a post-production film company. Their advice was to go abroad and perfect my colloquial English for a year, then come back and take the exam again. I applied as a French Assistant in Kent, where I was for three years. This is also where I met Will Bates (my roommate at the time) and I simply never went back to France… I followed him to Cheltenham (with an engagement ring!) in 2008 and joined College as an NQT (newly qualified teacher), after training in Ribston Hall Grammar School and Rednock Comprehensive School.
If you hadn’t become a teacher, what would you have done instead?
I was a real tomboy when I was a child, so I went through phases of wanting to be a helicopter pilot, a fireman or a jockey - horse riding and football were my two passions. As a teenager, I then wanted to become a nurse, mainly due to the fact that I loved watching ER and was hoping to meet my own George Clooney. I seriously considered nursing or psychotherapy for a long time: I always liked the idea of a hectic environment with distressed patients who are suffering and you have to manage the situation, reassure and heal them. But I was never good at Maths and Sciences, so it was not meant to be. I suppose working as a Housemistress - dealing with parents, staff, and teenage girls - is not too far from an A&E crisis sometimes!
What is your favourite thing about College life?
I have always loved being here but I genuinely love College more and more every year. This is a hard question because there are so many things to choose and I cannot imagine myself in a better school. Having left my whole family in France, I rebuilt myself in this pastoral environment and I have to say that my favourite aspect is the Houses, not just because I adore my job in Queen’s but because I really enjoy this lifestyle as a community. We work together, we cheer together, we cry together, we are tired together, we share ups and downs - we truly support each other.
What are you reading at the moment?
English is very much my professional language so when I want to relax, I read in French. I love fiction above all and I am currently reading Le liseur du 6h27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, but it’s only the beginning of the book, so I am not quite into it yet and I am still wondering where the story is going. Otherwise, I just finished La mélodie des jours by Lorraine Fouchet and it was great – I could not put it down. It’s about a young mum who has a six-year-old daughter and is diagnosed with breast cancer. She writes the book, addressed to her daughter - the emotion was real!
Other than your own, what was your favourite subject at school?
I guess I can still say languages as English was my foreign language, whereas French was my native literature subject. I have always known I was a linguist geek. The idea of a Latin translation, German declination or English verb tables was pure happiness to me! Some people like Sudoku for relaxation, whilst I enjoy conjugation for fun, it’s my brain gym. I read an article recently that being a linguist helps prevent dementia, as it stimulates different parts of your brain – so good news for me!
If you could be Prime Minister for the day, what is the first thing that you would do?
I would make smartphones illegal until 16 – they are a horrible disease for our young generations! Sorry to sound like such an old teacher, rant over…