Sylvain Schaeffer (36), from Falkirk, is one of UK education organisation STEM Learning’s STEM ambassadors – volunteers who inspire and support youngsters to take up STEM subjects.
When he’s not volunteering for STEM Learning, Sy works as a residential child care worker, specialising in supporting young people with autism and ADHD and is now working towards becoming a teacher.
In the past he has studied pediatrics, built sets for Katy Perry pop concerts and done a ton of other things on his way to becoming a STEM ambassador – a role he believes his varied life and career experience has prepared him for.
Sy struggled with Maths when he was younger, but discovered he had a talent for programming, which led him to realise that STEM careers can be broad.
He said: "One of my teacher’s told me I'd never be a teacher because I didn't have the right grades or qualities. No child should hear that – there’s always another approach.
"I’m proof of that – I strongly believe that you should never give up on your aspirations or give up on yourself. I feel everything I’ve gained over the years is for this purpose – to become a teacher.”
Sy has two sons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and this has inspired him to make sure that all children, whatever their needs, are supported in the classroom and beyond.
His work in a residential care home – an intense, but rewarding job – has allowed him to develop his listening, coaching, and mentoring skills as he works one-to-
one with young people, building their confidence and ability- particularly when it comes to mathematics and computing.
He will be starting his Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in the autumn, while volunteering in his role as STEM Ambassador and ultimately wants
to continue working with primary school children to build their confidence and enthusiasm and to help them enjoy STEM subjects.