16 January 2024

‘I’m where God has placed me’

Sue Blyth

A photo of Sue Blyth.

Head teacher Sue Blyth (Peterborough Citadel) shares how her faith influences her as a leader.

For most of my adult life, I have been challenged about my ‘calling’ and how I live out that calling in my daily life. I always questioned this, until I became a head teacher. Listening one Sunday to my corps officer preach on Matthew 5:16 very early on in my headship, I heard the voice of God tell me how I should lead my school: ‘I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there – shine!’

From that moment on, I have been driven by this verse. My school is a large community primary school, with no religious background. Yet we’re driven by this very evangelical desire to be present in our community and not to shy away from our core purpose: to serve.

Of course, we want our students to be literate and numerate, that’s our bread and butter, but more than that we’re a school built on the foundation of love – a place where children, staff and parents feel valued and nurtured to be the best possible versions of themselves.

As the head teacher, I am the pastor of this community, with a flock of 450 children, 72 staff and countless family members. The school is there in their happiest moments as well as in the darkest of times. Although there are many great school leaders of no faith out there, who will do everything they can, I know I have prayer as my most powerful and useful resource. Even in school, prayer changes things!

As a Salvationist, I often think of William Booth’s ‘I’ll Fight’ speech. I believe a school is absolutely the place where The Salvation Army should be. It’s a whole community where people need love, support and care. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, schools have seen a huge increase in children exhibiting social and emotional difficulties, which are played out in difficult behaviours or school avoidance.

At my school a Starfish mentor – part of The Salvation Army’s mentoring programme – actively works with these children to help them articulate and understand their feelings and how they might address them. The cost of living crisis also means many parents are facing challenges. School staff are not immune to these issues either.

The Salvation Army can offer a listening ear as well as practical help and support. I thank God for Salvationists who are willing to serve and spend time with people in these wonderful, vibrant communities, influencing the next generation.

Charles Wesley once wrote: ‘To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil.’ For me, there is no finer calling. I’m on the front line, every day, right where God has placed me.

  • Sue will be speaking at the Children and Youth Department’s Schoolswork Conference on 16 March, alongside teachers, volunteers, governors and students.

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A photo of Sue Blyth.

Sue Blyth

Peterborough Citadel

CY Schoolswork Conference

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Warwick University

Warwick University

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