Michelle Lindsay-Baharie

2018 Highly Commended Winner

A trained actress, Michelle was never supposed to be a teacher. However, after 15 years of acting she started to facilitate and lead community workshops for vulnerable adults and found her true calling.

Ten years ago, Michelle took evening classes while working as an actress to become a qualified teacher. Newly qualified, she was approached by Sunderland Council to write and direct for a group of adults in the community. This experience changed her life.

Michelle currently teaches drama to 60 adults through the WEA – some are retirees, some have learning needs. Her primary motivation is to build the confidence of her students and empower them to make creative and technical decisions, encouraging them to develop and challenge themselves.

Michelle also directs and supports the groups to perform plays in community venues. Often, Michelle’s plays provide a resource to enhance her students’ learning experience and increase their social, historical and emotional awareness.

Many of her students start class with such low confidence that they can’t even hold eye contact. Others have strained family relationships. Soon they are ‘strutting like peacocks’ and forming bonds with grandchildren.

Michelle’s nominator said “Michelle is a positive ambassador for learning – her teaching gives her students a voice and a purpose that boosts their self-esteem and sense of belonging in their communities.”

Michelle said “Teaching adults has enhanced and empowered my life; tutoring for the WEA has given me so much space to grow, take risks and change lives.”