St Paul’s Catholic School Latest News

Science Teacher Becomes 'Stambassador'

Chris Nelson with representative from Action for Stammering Children

For Science Teacher, Chris Nelson, stammering has been a part of his life since he was at primary school.  Now he is using his experience of living with a stammer to help others by being a ‘Stambassador’ for the charity Action for Stammering Children.

The charity helps young people navigate their way through the more difficult transition periods in their lives. Whether they’re moving on to secondary school, university, or their first job, they want young people who stammer to take every opportunity that comes their way.  To help inspire young people they have videoed a number of Stambassadors, including Chris, about their jobs and why they chose their careers.

The overall message is that people should not be held back by stammering, a sentiment that Chris wholeheartedly agrees with.  He said:  “My stammer was very severe at secondary school, it could sometimes take two to three minutes to complete a sentence and that’s difficult when you’re an already angst-filled teenager.”  One of the hurdles that Chris faced was that he wasn’t allowed to do the speaking component within the French GCSE exam, although he acknowledges that things are different for pupils nowadays.

Chris’s father also stammered and he had pushed himself by working on a market stall where he had to speak with customers every day.  Following his father’s example Chris also made sure he interacted with people as much as possible by working at Wicksteed Park, a famous regional leisure destination with rides and activities for families.  He also became involved in youth politics whilst in his school’s Sixth Form, identifying politics as a possible future career path. 

His original plan was to be a solicitor so Chris gained a Law degree at university and then worked in politics for a political party and for an MEP.  Chris also had a spell as an Examinations Officer at a school and whilst there did a Science degree at the Open University.  This led him to teacher training and he trained at St Paul’s, later becoming a full time member of the Science Department teaching Chemistry.

Chris will be helping teachers at St Paul’s by delivering an advice session to give them hints and tips on working with children who stammer.  He said:  “People often assume that because you have a stammer you don’t like public speaking, but I love it and it will be good to share some of my experiences with my teaching colleagues.”

He continued:  “When you have a stammer it’s important to push through and keep trying.  You’re not alone so try not to worry about it and just keep going.  There is help out there if you need it.”

Chris’s tips for talking to someone with a stammer are:

  • Don’t interrupt and don’t try to finish words or sentences
  • Don’t make assumptions – just because someone has a stammer doesn’t mean they don’t want to be part of a conversation
  • Be aware of your actions and be kind

Young people can get advice and guidance from Action for Stammering Children here

To watch Chris's and other Stambassadors' videos please click here.

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