Reflections: Rona Mackenzie – A year full of personal and working challenges

It feels as though December crept up on us, and the academic term has suddenly drawn to a close. 2015 has, without doubt, been the busiest year of my career so far.

It started with a bang when I hit my 40th birthday in late January and set myself the goal of achieving forty challenges in the subsequent twelve-months. That set the tone for a year full of personal and working challenges.

On reflection there are a number of events that have been significant. My forty challenges began in an exhilarating fashion on the Italian slopes, learning to ski and cross country ski, then led me to the north of Scotland to learn to use ice axe and crampons in preparation for my Russian expedition in August.

My plan to give blood was thwarted by my unhelpful lack of accessible veins, but led me to an unexpected encounter with the charity, Delete Blood Cancer.

Through my tweets about giving blood I was introduced to a fellow tweeter, whose son has blood cancer, and they were able to show me that I could contribute in a small way towards potentially beating this terrible illness.

The challenges continued in a random fashion. I’ve milked cows, learnt to clay pigeon shoot, tried meditation (unsuccessfully!), been to the ballet and opera, climbed the Stenigot Tower with the Royal Air Force and tried to slack line!

I went to the Queen’s Garden Party, visited Paris, ate fancy food and went to a Foo Fighters concert! I experienced failure – the 100km Race to the Stones left me physically broken at 70km and we were unsuccessful in our attempt to climb Mount Elbrus.

There are still a few of the forty to complete, but my experiences have exposed me to new opportunities and taught me a lot about myself.

My ultimate goal was to raise £4040.40 for four charities… I am not quite there yet so I have that as a final challenge in the New Year before my 41st!

In 2015 I was simultaneously enjoying the challenges of the first year at Lincoln University Technical College. When I was a Deputy Head Teacher I really didn’t appreciate the complexity of school leadership.

As a start up business, the year has been a series of firsts and we have enjoyed many superb experiences alongside our inevitable challenges. I work with inspiring and talented colleagues and we are fortunate to educate students who have passion, commitment and determination.

There have been too many experiences to recount here but I will never forget opening the Lincoln UTC in our permanent home on Lindum Road in November. That was quite simply the proudest day of my career.

2015 has proven to be exciting and rewarding and I know the year ahead will be equally packed with new experiences and challenges. Christmas is a time to hit the pause button, devote our time to be with those we love and take a well earned rest. Just a quick rest thought, I’m hitting the Atlas Mountains on the 27th to climb three peaks… seeing in 2016 in the best possible way!

Happy Christmas, I hope you enjoy the festivities and get off to a flying start in 2016!

Dr. Rona Mackenzie is Principal of Lincoln University Technical College (UTC). She has a strong background in education, having worked in six local authorities during her career, and is passionate about providing an education that meet the needs of young people and their community industries. She is a keen sportswoman and mountaineer, recently trekking to Everest Base Camp, and has an interest in photography.