A former student of Hartlepool College of Further Education is praising the support he gained from the staff at the College and claims it’s one of the main reasons he gained his two dream jobs. Jonathan Gibbon-Hayes, 38, studied with Hartlepool College in 1998 and again 16 years later. He now works as manager for Hartlepool United Women’s Football Team whilst also juggling a full-time career as a teacher at St Hild’s Church of England School.
Jonathan says his journey started in the second year of college when he was sent on placement to his old school and performed so well, he was offered a job. He said: “I was initially asked to be a support worker at the school as I was working with a young lad with Tourette’s before I moved on to be an apprentice teaching assistant.” This resulted in Jonathan becoming a high-level teaching assistant at the school, as well as roles as a coach for the school’s football teams, acting assistant head of year and taking PE classes. He continued: “Three years ago, I’d worked my way up and was given the job of Head of Year. It was around this time that I decided to head back to Hartlepool College of Further Education to undertake a Foundation Degree in Sports Exercise.I thought by doing the course it would secure my job within the school. I never imagined it would also help me get a role at the team I’ve supported since I was a young lad.”
Jonathan now juggles a full-time job with St Hild’s, a young family, his education requirements with the College and a head coaching role with Hartlepool United. He says the support he received from the College helped him to achieve his goals: “Staff at the College were inspirational and for someone who’s a little older, with other responsibilities to contend with, I felt very supported. Shaun Hope, in particular, was brilliant and I still regularly get messages from him saying how well I’m doing. Especially with the football team as I know he’s a big fan of the club.”
Whilst studying with the College Jonathan has also undertaken his UEFA B coaching license and says his experience at Hartlepool College of FE has inspired him to go even further. His advice for anyone thinking about returning to college after a break in education is to ‘give it a go’. He said: “Just go for it! Not having a degree was something I felt always held me back. I’m now so glad I did it as the friendships I’ve made, the respect I’ve built from people at the College and the support they’ve given me is incredible.Even at my age it’s had a massive impact on my life. My job is secure now and I think the difference Hartlepool College of FE has helped me get to where I am today.”
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