“For a while, I had the nickname of DC Death, because every time I had a night shift, someone got murdered”.
As her degree in psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University drew to a close, Tracie found herself a little uncertain of where she wanted to go next.
‘Back in 2003, I’d thought about teaching, but I didn’t want to go back to university. And so when a friend of mine applied to policing, I thought “that sounds good”’.
“And so in 2003, I started policing, and I would go around the street doing everything that everyone thinks is brilliant about the job.
“Then after four years, I became a detective – which at the time, was very much a job for the boys – not this 20-something year old girl.
“And yeah, it was then that I got that nickname.
“And for a while, it was exciting. I had a great time. I got to work on gangland shootings. Hospitals being set on fire. Anything you could think of, I had to deal with it.”
“Eventually, I moved on to adult and child protection – formerly in Stretford Police Station, and I was there for seven years.
“I was happy, but I knew I was also becoming quite cynical, and was always seeing the bad in people”
Now, I’m coming home with happy stories, rather than sad ones.
“Due to working in child protection, I mostly dealt with the pain and suffering of children by people who were meant to love them. This effected my family because when my daughter would ask to join clubs I was very apprehensive about her being away from me and in the care of strangers.
“I suppose it’s ironic then that as a teacher I now expect parents to put their trust in me.
“And at the same time, I felt I’d done everything as a detective. I didn’t want to get a gun, or a dog. I wanted to do something different in my life.
“And my husband knew this about me, and he reminded me that I always wanted to go into teaching. And he was right, because I know it sounds odd, but whenever I worked with vulnerable children there was always a point where I had to walk away, and I hated that. Because even though we would put stuff in place, I knew they always needed more.
“Teaching though seemed the best way of getting the kids to walk away from me, with everything they needed.”
So Tracie Googled teaching, found out about Teach First, and the rest is history…
“As I said, I didn’t want to go back to university – it just seemed so alien to me after everything I’d been through, and so teaching through Teach First suited my circumstances a lot more.
“And now, my kids get a lot more time from me, so they love the fact I’m a teacher too.
“I think the best thing though, it that I can be a friendly face, at the stage that prevents things happening. Or I can at least give them the tools they need to move on and move forward in their lives.
“I really do believe that they are so many things that are preventable, and if you are that friendly face, hopefully they feel like they can come forward much earlier so some of that stuff can be stopped before it gets worse. I’m not sure that there is another job out there that does this.
“I think teaching means I can do much more to break the cycle – because before, I saw the same teenagers getting arrested, and then their teenagers getting arrested. And I just think that you don't have to have that repeated cycle. You can aspire for more. But you have to put your mind to it, and I just hope that I can be a part of that”.
“Now, I’m coming home with happy stories, rather than sad ones.”
“4 weeks in, I’ve not changed the world just yet.
“But I’m getting the relationships, I’m starting to manage my time better, and I’ve always felt very supported – even when I’ve felt very much in the deep end!
“And already – and especially with the year 7s, I’m seeing the spark in them.
“And so now I think: don’t judge them. You know, just because they’ve been arrested; or they’re a little brash, there’s a lot of things that have gone on for them - so look a little deeper.
“See the best in people.”