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Five minutes of Fame with Mel Ellis

Mel Ellis is Deputy Head of Senior School at Dulwich College (Singapore) and has been with us for four years. Here she tells us a little more about which chef she would love to cook for her, how she nearly became a celebrity and her most memorable teacher moment ever.

Where else in the world have you lived?

I was born in Manchester, England and left in 2000. Since then we’ve called Hong Kong, Vienna, Beijing and Singapore home.

Tell us about your family.

I am married to Mike (counsellor) and have two children in the Junior School here – Hana in Year 6 and Tom in Year 3.

What’s your favourite weekend activity in Singapore?

It definitely involves a lazy morning at home, followed by a walk or some water based activity and a visit to a restaurant (Din Tai Fung to keep Hana and Tom happy, usually). A café/bookshop stop is an added treat and if we make it to a foot massage then we’re on to a winner.

Did you always want to a teacher?

Up until being about 12 I wanted to be a journalist, then a doctor, and then a teacher. I’m glad I went with the last one.

What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

If I could only ever keep one book it would be The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I read it on a loop when I was young and it still resonates now. Favourite author is tough as there are many (and I am going to be inviting some of them to my imaginary dinner party later); most recently I have been stocking up on anything I can find by Barbara Kingsolver after being mesmerised by The Poisonwood Bible.

Tell us about a hidden talent or a top secret that no-one would know about you.

A medium sized secret – I was a contestant on a famous UK game show. For anybody reading this who might remember it...I didn’t make it to a gold run but I did get to do the dance at the end of one of the episodes.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive?

I’m quite quiet at dinner parties and other conversational events, so I would pick people who could do all of the talking and be thoroughly entertaining. Lucy Mangan (a brilliant and very funny British journalist and author), Toni Morrison, Nina Simone and a piano, Jonathan Safran Foer (so it would have to be a vegetarian evening) and Yotam Ottolenghi to do all of the cooking.

What does a typical day at the College look like for you?

I don’t think anybody at the College has a typical day; the best thing about this job is that every day is different. On the whole though, my day usually involves some Chemistry teaching (hurray!), a duty or two, meetings with parents and staff, working with students, forward planning, marking, reducing the number of emails in my inbox and looking for learning. It’s great!

Do you have a motto or saying that really resonates with you?

Be silly. Be honest. Be kind. Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think that covers it really.

Do you have a most memorable teacher moment?

There are memorable moments most days...one that stands out from a while back is the last lesson with one of my all time favourite Year 13 groups. They had made me a scrap book and CD; the CD had carefully selected tracks from each student that meant something to me and to them....resulting in much blubbing all round. A stand out moment from last week – in the midst of the busy morning bus duty a boy from reception class got off the bus and without any prompting said to me “What’s the best thing to put into a pie?” I knelt and said “I don’t know” and he replied “your teeth!” and then pottered off to class.

Thank you Mrs Ellis! Tune in next month when we will be talking to Clare Measures, Head of Year 5.