Refugee mum takes on teaching role to help Teesside students

A mum who was forced to flee from her native Iran following religious persecution has landed a new job teaching on Teesside.

Naghmeh Zarehaghighi came to the UK in 2015 with her then four-year-old son because life at home had become too dangerous.

The 41-year-old, who has a passion for mathematics and was highly qualified as a teacher in Iran, first came to Middlesbrough College to study a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) that would allow her to take up the job she loves in the UK.

Hard-working Naghmeh became a model student on the PGCE course, impressing Middlesbrough College tutors with her commitment and ambition, all while working in the College’s beauty salon and doing volunteer work across Middlesbrough.

She said: “I love teaching so much, and I’m so happy I’m now able to do that again. It gives me so much pleasure to help students who sometimes don’t have a lot of confidence.

“I really want to help them change their lives.”

Naghmeh is now a Dyscalculia/Maths tutor for Middlesbrough College’s Progression Studies students at Functional Skills and GCSE Level – often those who need additional support in their learning including students with English as a second language.

Her new job is just the latest achievement for the busy mum, who has also completed a Level 3 Beauty Therapy qualification, built a client base in the College’s on-site salon and helped countless others through mentoring for Middlesbrough’s The Hope Foundation.

She’s thrilled that her son, now eight, is starting to show an interest in maths.

Naghmeh added: “My son now says he wants to learn about maths, he’s really enjoying it and I’m helping him.

“I tell all of my students they are lucky to have such wonderful opportunities in the UK, where education and skills are valued. If you work hard you can achieve. This was not always the case for me in my home country.

“Middlesbrough College has changed my life and I’m so happy now I can help others.”

Her remarkable achievements are bittersweet for Naghmeh, who faces constant worry about the safety of her parents, who remain in Iran.

Jenni Cairns, director of Progression Studies at Middlesbrough College, said: “We’re all in awe of Naghmeh and how under such difficult circumstances she has shown determination and compassion towards others.

“She is a first-class teacher who is really invested in her students, and can offer so much experience to young people, helping them to progress. Her resilience is inspiring for them and us all.”