Paul Calvert spoke with Jaz Ampaw-Farr, a past contestant on the TV show The Apprentice. She shared about her traumatic past and how she’s overcome it to inspire others in life and in education.
Paul: What are you doing in Israel?
Jaz: I have the honour of working with the Anglican International School in Jerusalem. My day job is a literacy consultant. I am really passionate about reading, writing and spelling and getting as close to brilliant as we can.
They were my own tickets out of poverty; not just physical poverty but mind-set poverty.
If we can get children by the end of primary school really owning the skills they need, then we can make a huge difference.
At the Anglican International School they have a great vision for making sure that every child, no matter which school they come from, or which language they speak, or which year they are in, gets the best that they can give. It’s quality education in English language so that they can use that to go on and fulfil that potential.
I am supporting with some funky ideas and a bit of systematic planning for that.
Paul: Who inspired you? Tell us about your story and childhood.
Jaz: I always think my childhood is a sad story. If I was going on the X-Factor in the UK, all the contestants have really sad back stories, and that’s what makes them great contestants. I don’t want to particularly win a singing competition, but I do have a great back story.
I am mixed race. I lived with my mum who was white and my dad was unknown.
It was quite a turbulent childhood. She married a man who was very violent and abused us, sexually, physically, and verbally.
We were in an out of foster care, myself and my five brothers and sisters. Throughout this time I felt very alone and very afraid for my life. I didn’t believe I was valuable, I felt worthless. I was scared all the time.
Fortunately in school I was completely blessed.
I worked out I had about 100 teachers between attending nursery school and attending teacher training college. Of them, five, I had one in each key stage as I went through, they did the academic stuff, but they connected with me as a person. They were about engagement and believing in me. They valued me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I would say “I can’t do it” and they would say “What would it look like if you could?” I would say “I am rubbish I am never going to get this right” and they would say “I believe in you and I am right here.”
Because I never had anyone else, the power of someone just standing shoulder to shoulder with you repeatedly, kind of kept that flame of hope burning that one day I would escape my horrible life.