Mrs Sophie Rickner
Position: Houseparent Queen's, Teacher of English
Qualifications: BA Durham
Telephone: 01280 818151
Life before Stowe
My life before Stowe was already centred around schools, since my mother’s teaching jobs took us from Manchester to Bath, then to Banbury (Tudor Hall School) and finally to the south coast. Lancing College, where she was a House Mistress, decided to admit girls at 13yrs just in time for me to start there, following in my father’s and brother’s footsteps. Five happy years later I was off to Durham University. With final exams behind me I decided to have an academic breather, spending a year living on the farm of family friends, helping get hunters fit and working every morning for a point-to point trainer.
Actually, it was at this time that my connection with Stowe began, because I was also coaching Fives at the school. That led to a year as a postgraduate assistant, and then to completing my PGCE here while also getting pastoral experience as the Assistant Housemistress of Stanhope. Phase one of my Stowe experience ended when I went to teach at Summer Fields preparatory school for five wonderful years followed by a year at Beachborough.
What do you enjoy most about your subject?
The range and quality of literature written in the English language is just so exciting. Shakespeare, the Victorian writers, modern American writers such as Toni Morrison….. all open doors to varied worlds and insight into human beings. What I love about teaching English is encouraging pupils to open those doors and to develop confident oral and written skills to express their ideas. Having taught a range of age groups I am constantly delighted by students’ ability to perceive texts in a new light and I find, more often than not, that I myself read texts differently and more analytically having taught them.
What do you enjoy most about Stowe?
Stowe is a special place for me: it is where I met my husband when we both came as new teachers and I have made some wonderful friends here. Moreover, being a country lover it is not hard to see why I simply love living here. Walking our dogs around the stunning grounds and chatting to Stoics is hard to beat.
What is your favourite lesson?
It is hard to pinpoint a specific lesson, but I have always found group discussions of the different forms of love in Romeo and Juliet fascinating.
What do others say about you?
I suspect that most people would comment on my diminutive stature!
As well as teaching English my main focus is on Queen’s House, which my husband and I run as co-Housemaster/Housemistress. We started in September 2017 and we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves!
My life has been dominated by my greatest passion: horses. My long-term family home is in Scotland, so I was lucky enough to grow up in the idyllic hills of the Borders. Many of my memories are of riding on the hills with various dogs, something I still do as much as I can. I still own a horse and compete when I can. Another passion is for sun and heat, with summers regularly spent in Italy, where my parents have a house. There I swim a lot and eat a lot and try to get by with my embarrassingly poor Italian.