Local lad Richard Spencer (or Doc as he is affectionately known) is one of Middlesbrough College’s treasures! An award winning teacher, Doc teaches on the A Level Science programmes delivered at Middlesbrough College Sixth Form.
When Doc was at Sixth Form he studied A Level Biology, Chemistry and Physics and progressed to study Applied Biology at Cardiff University. He went on to gain a PhD in Molecular Genetics at Sunderland University and did post-doctoral research and lecturing in genetics and biotechnology.
Doc decided he wanted to inspire future generations of scientists and trained as a secondary science teacher at Durham University. As a qualified teacher, Doc landed his first job teaching A-level Biology and A-level Chemistry back in his home town, Billingham.
His career there was successful – he received a host of teaching awards including an award for Best Interdisciplinary Teaching at Science on Stage, Berlin! Doc was also invited to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10, Downing Street on two occasions, in acknowledgement of his contributions to science education and he was honoured with an MBE at Buckingham Palace for his contribution to science communication in 2010.
Having taught in Billingham for 22 years, Doc decided it was time to spread his wings and cross the Tees! 7 years later and Doc is still loving his time with Middlesbrough College.
Doc said: “I enjoy every minute in the classroom and hope my students do too. I find it invigorating, knowing that I am making a difference to the students I teach and their future prospects. Our students are so polite and grateful – they are a pleasure to teach.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing the Sixth Form go from strength to strength and, in particular, seeing A-level Biology students achieve excellent results. I introduced a challenging national competition called the Biology Olympiad and I’m proud of the dozens of students who have gained national recognition, including commendations and bronze, silver and gold medals.
“I’ve seen students flourish as they have been involved in national and international research projects, such as those run by School & Plants for Schools (SAPS), Science on Stage Europe, LUMA Finland and Erasmus Plus Europe.
“On a personal level, the past seven years have been immense! In 2014, I was listed as one of the UK’s Top 100 Scientists by the Science Council UK. In 2015, I was named as one of the world’s Top Ten Teachers in the Global Teacher Prize.
“In 2017, I was made a Qudwa Fellow at the Qudwa Global Teachers Conference, Abu Dhabi and was conferred with an honorary Master’s degree by the Open University for my contribution to education.
“Also in 2017, I was presented with an ‘Oscar’ at the KREF, Republic of Macedonia. And, I was a member of a team of international teachers who won the ‘Online Programme for School Improvement’ Pisa4U international competition for creation of STEM teaching resources.
“In 2018, I won a ‘Best Lecture’ Award for a public presentation on ‘Enthusiasm in Education’ at the 15th Children’s International Festival - Creative Magic in Serbia. I was also named national Biology Teacher of the Year by the Royal Society of Biology and was national winner of STEM Learning UK Enthuse Award for Excellence in STEM teaching in Further Education!
“Great teachers are great learners. Every day I learn something new. That’s what I love about being a teacher and I think it is important that, as teachers, we demonstrate our love of learning, so our students can absorb our enthusiasm to become passionate life-long learners themselves.”