Beth Daniel - Principal
Beth’s experience of teaching with the Academy began in South Africa in 2006. After studying for her Bachelor of Drama degree at The University of Stellenbosch, she moved to London for a while to work as a nanny. Beth believes her love of working with children began here, especially when she worked on a one-to-one basis with a special needs child.
When, in March 2010, Beth and her husband moved to the UK, the obvious thing was for her to take on her own branch here.
Beth says: “I love the fact I wake up every day excited about what I do. I loved teaching for the Academy in South Africa, but owning my own branch has been life changing. I love the fact that whatever I do in my business, as a teacher and as a Principal, it is influencing the lives of young people positively. I love that I get to act, be a kid myself and use my imagination with the children I teach on a daily basis! Being a Principal has made me more confident and more assertive.”
“Children are taken on an imaginative journey because of our fantastic curriculum. The work we do allows them to feel safe and confident enough to open up and communicate thoughts and feelings. Why would anyone not want to empower young people through our amazing self-development programme? It is so satisfying to give back to the community by influencing young people. We should all teach children to feel good about who they are!”
Robyn Peirson - Vice Principal
Robyn caught the performing bug at the age of 2, when she performed her first character solo in a dance competition. She continued to study dance right up to teaching level. Robyn discovered a love of teaching, watching children develop their confidence in the routines and possessed the ability to bond with both children and their parents.
Robyn really became inspired by when she reached her high school and was able to study Drama in classes. Taking part in all school plays, a member of the choir and really taking any opportunity to perform. Studying Drama at GCSE level, then taking a BTEC in Performing Arts and achieving a double distinction. During her GCSE's Robyn was also undertaking private training for LAMDA exams, starting at Grade 5, and completing her Gold Level Verse and Prose, and her Silver Award for Acting.
Robyn has recently graduated with a BA Honours Performing Arts Degree from The University of South Wales and is very excited that she will be able to fuse her love of the stage and working with children to teach in the Academy.
Sareena Rai - Teacher
Sareena gained a (Bsc hons) in Speech and Language therapy in 2010 from De Montfort University. It was here that she studied the importance of creative and imaginative play in all aspects of a child and young person’s development. Once finishing her degree she completed a drama course run by ‘Act Up’, in conjunction with the Oxford School of Drama, where she developed a love for acting, and realised the benefits of using drama as a therapeutic technique. She has had key roles in several plays at the Curve Theatre, is a veteran actress for the Y theatre’s 14/48 Theatre festival- dubbed as the world’s quickest theatre festival!
It was in March 2015, Whilst volunteering at a school in St Lucia that Sareena’s love for teaching and working with children was reignited, leading to her seeking a role where she could combine her SALT background, with her love of drama and working with children.
Sareena says, “I’m so excited to be part of Helen O’Grady Drama Academy. I’m looking forward to my journey as a drama teacher and am most excited to see how the children develop. For me the most rewarding part of the job is seeing a child come out of his/her shell and watching their language and social skills improve every week!
Sareena is an enthusiastic, energetic teacher, with commitment to our self-development programme. I am most confident that the students will have a great time in her classes, and benefit from her excellent teaching.
Sophie Swoffer - Teacher
Sophie found her passion for performance when she joined a youth theatre at the age of 11. Here she learnt first hand how drama could have a positive impact on children’s confidence and communication skills. This experience stuck with Sophie where she then continued her love of drama all through high school- developing skills in devising performances, improvisation and script work.
In 2014 Sophie graduated from De Montfort University with a first class Degree in Drama Studies (BA hons), staying on for an extra year to study her Master's Degree in Performance Practices and graduating with a Distinction.
Since graduating, Sophie has worked for De Montfort University to represent them as their Associate Artist. In this role, Sophie led acting workshops for students and also showcased her own performance work at University Festivals in Leicester. As well as performing on stage, Sophie worked at The Curve Theatre as a Stage Manager and an Assistant Director, where she had the opportunity to see how both sides of the curtains work.
Sophie has taught in primary schools before and cannot wait to return to this. She is looking forward to getting to know the children where she will be able to help their confidence and performance skills flourish. Sophie believes wholeheartedly in using her own theatrical experiences as a way to help the children she teaches express themselves individually. She wants to have as much fun in class as possible, whilst teaching children the value of having sound communication skills.
Sarah Gott - Teacher
Sarah has been dancing since the age of three. She trained in London at the Wheatley School of Dance - now known as The London Stage School - until she moved to Oakham. She continued dancing, eventually joining Rutland Musical Theatre.
Since opening Oakham Studios in 2014, Sarah has taken part in various performance projects and workshops, including Spotlight. She also teaches her own adult and children's classes, including Mini Music and Movement sessions for pre-schoolers. These sessions are full of energy and fun, while introducing the children to a wide range of music styles.
Sarah also works with the children at a local nursery, running her Music and Movement sessions for babies up to pre-school.
Sarah's creativity and love of children will be a great asset to the Academy and to all the classes that she will be teaching.