Our Teachers

Ann Coster Bell,  Lara Houston , Rachel McKeown,  John Doyle O’Brien, 
Sabrina Patino, Kate Hickling,  Derek Raishbrook.  Standing, Suzanna  Newman and Kim Kulshaw.

Back. Derek Raishbrook, Ann Coster Bell, John O’Brien, Rachel McKeown & Sabrina Patiño.  Front. Kim Culshaw & Suzanne Newman

Our teachers are central to your and our success. Our teachers are university graduates of Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland. They are encouraged to develop their special areas of interest, making the teaching lively and stimulating.  All are selected for their enthusiasm as well as their ability.  Friendly and accessible, they appreciate the needs of students and take an active role in planning courses.

Kim Culshaw  B.Ed (Honours) Information Technology. 21 years industry experience in Finance and Human Resources. 15 years teaching experience, 10 years as KS5 ICT co-coordinator and Lead Verifier for BTEC qualification.
Main subjects: ICT, Business Studies, General Studies. Experience of teaching in a challenging school environment to pupils with Special Education Needs and English as a second language. Experience in careers advice and supporting pupils with UCAS applications. Recently retired. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking Kim for her professionalism and dedication to our students during her time with us.

Ann Coster Bell( TEFL London). Over 20 years experience in teaching English as a secondary/ foreign language. Specialist areas include Business English – Adults (Thailand). Grammar & Speaking – Primary ( Belize, Nepal, Spain). Cambridge PET, Starters, Movers , Flyers – Primary ( Spain) KS2, KS3 British Curriculum – primary. I have been working since 2015 at The O’Brien Language Centre.

Sabrina Patiño.  Degree in Educational Psychology. B.A. in Education and Higher Diploma in Education. I graduated in 2008 from the University of Murcia. I spent two years in the Educational Science Institute in Murcia. Here I was the coordinator of the program, for the Masters in Education for secondary teachers of Medicine, Engineering and English. I also edited the text books for the professors of this course.

I have been teaching in the Academy since 2014 delivering Spanish to primary, GCSE and A Level students. One of my major roles at the Academy includes providing academic assistance to students studying in the Spanish education system, then presenting these students for examination at the various levels including the PAU or selectividad, entry examinations for Spanish university. My work also includes  preparing and implementing educational plans for students with diagnosis, such as Down Syndrome, ADHD, TDH and all those who have special needs and require tailor made therapies. We have been successful in acquiring financial assistance from the Spanish government towards the support of certain special needs students, within the Spanish education system.

Rachel Whelehan. I graduated form the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Fine Chemicals and Pharmaceutical Sciences (Honours). After university I worked for Rice Steele in Dublin as a Quality Control Analyst.  In 2009 I moved to Spain and then spent two years working in local academies. I then worked for an international school for four years in total.

I have been working at The O’Brien Language Centre since 2017.  My main subject areas include:Key Stage 3 Mathematics and and the three Sciences, GCSE Higher Mathematics and A level Mathematicss. GCSE Biology and Chemistry and Btec in Pe theory. Head of department Mathematics at KS3 and KS4. 

Lara Houston (BTechEd)  I’m Lara, I am 29 years old and I am from Scotland. I qualified from Glasgow University in 2012 with a Bachelors Degree in Technological Education.
I spent five years teaching Graphics, Woodwork, Engineering, Electronics and Design in Glasgow before moving to Spain. As well I have experience with children with learning and behavioural needs. I have been working at the academy since 2017 with the Key Stage 2 and 3 students and also with GCSE students. During my time at The O’Brien Language Centre I have taught Art, Maths, Statistics and Biology as well as KS 2/3.  I am a dedicated teacher and enjoy creating a positive learning environment for students to achieve their goals.

Suzanna Newman   (BA Hons  -Theology Manchester) PGCE 
20 years of teaching experience, 12 years as Head of  the Religious Education department and PHSE. My main subjects include, Religious Studies, History, PHSE and Citizenship. I also have experience in teacher training, challenging behaviour and assessment for learning.  I started working at the academy in 2017, where I have delivered, Religious Studies, Sociology and Drama. I also help in the production of the annual Christmas show.

Derek Raishbrook (BA Hons). Over 40 years experience in the UK in ‘challenging’ schools and FE. Main subjects: English, History, Geography, Religion, Maths, E2L, PSHE and Social Studies. Also Head of Special Needs and Year Head. Consultant to Worcester University re: SEN teacher training. I taught in English Secondary Schools and Further Education from 1974 until 2012, when I came to Spain for family reasons. I always intended to continue teaching whilst I, and any employer, felt I had something to offer.

In England I worked in three different Secondary Comprehensives, the first two being extremely challenging in their cohort and reputation. The third was in need of great improvement, which it successfully achieved. In School 1 I taught English, Maths, Geography and History and became Deputy to the Special Needs Co-ordination (SENCo). I was promoted to SENCo when advancing to School 2 and we had the extremely stressful Special Measures to negotiate. My special needs department needed to be invigorated at my third school and I was brought in, on recommendation, to do that. I am pleased and proud to have been the leader of a team that achieved excellent results. I was also joint House Head, sharing the pastoral care responsibilities for around a hundred students.

On (slightly early) retirement from school life I happily took up a part-time role in Further Education, teaching Functional Skills to college students. Again, Ofsted seemed to be following me around but we jumped that hurdle with ease.

On leaving the school environment I was asked to be a consultant for new SENCos at the University of Worcester. In this role I was, of course, able to offer years of experience and to give guidance to newer colleagues beginning to find their way through a labyrinthine system of administration and procedural difficulties. My Spanish sojourn was never intended to be permanent but, here I am, happily teaching at The O’Brien Centre since 2014, having previously taught in a small tuition centre run by a current colleague.

Catherine Hickling (BA) Hons Hispanic Studies University of Hull. Having graduated with a B.A. Hons I joined a Multinational Corporation at a Managerial level and spent the next eighteen years living and working in England, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway and The Republic of Ireland in a variety of Senior Roles. During this time I also had two sons and “went back to school” to get my teaching qualifications for life outside of the Corporate World. Whilst still running our franchise I started teaching in Ireland, specialising in children and adults with Dyslexia.

I have taught for over 30 years one way or another, from my first teaching post in Madrid (Cambridge English) to the present day, following the AQA British curriculum.  I also worked for over ten years within the Irish state system. The subjects I have delivered include, Latin, English, History, Geography, Citizenship  and Sociology.  Coming from a corporate background allows me to use a variety of techniques and teaching methods to get the best out of all pupils, whatever their age or ability. I have a proven 100% track record of exam passes and am passionate about getting each and every student to fulfill their own potential.

A change of circumstances brought us to Spain in 2012 where I started teaching International Students ranging from 3 to 82 years old. I joined The O’Brien Language Academy in  2018 and have enjoyed working there ever since. Outside of work I am a HUGE rugby union fan, a prolific reader, an accomplished pianist, an avid traveller and a passionate baker……it’ s amazing I find time to work!


Victoria Ferrandez Gomez. Hi! I am Victoria. I am Spanish but I am an enthusiast of the English language. I graduated in 2018 in English Studies (linguistics and literature) from the University of Murcia. I took an Erasmus+ programme attended the University of Essex, England. There, I joined the women’s university rugby team and represented the University in various matches. When I came back to Spain, I looked for another team and I am currently playing in CUDER (Club Universitario Deportivo de Rugby – Murcia). After university I took on my first employment in Starbucks as a supervisor whilst I was waiting for the right opportunity. I started working full time at The O’Brien Language Centre last year 2019 with the financial support of the Spanish government as I am taking a three-year course in business administration, with John as my employer and tutor. 

John O’Brien.  BA. Sociology & Geography Joint Honours Trinity College Dublin. Certificate in Social Studies NCIR. I left school at 15 and took up an apprenticeship as an electrician.  I spent twenty years working in industrial installation and later in the film industry in TV and film lighting.  I worked for various companies including The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and RTE. I was a member of the first production crew of Fair City. After a major family loss I decided to return to education and attended the National College of Industrial Relations.  From there I went on to study at Trinity College Dublin for 7 years.  Firstly as an undergraduate and later a Masters student investigating social housing.  I was a tutor in the Geography Dept of TCD for 3 years. I graduated in 2000.  I spent five years working as a supply teacher in Colaiste Iosagain  Secondary School Portarlington and Mountmellick Secondary. I also acted as an examinations officer for the Department of Education Dublin.

Personal reasons initiated another major change and brought me to Spain. I worked in a number of academies and then for 6 years in an International school as a teacher and then as Director. I have over 20 years experience working in education. I have worked for the Conselleria de Educacion, Cultura y Deporte, Generalitat Valenciana in a program for CEFIRE (Centro de Formacion, Innovacion y Recursos Educativos) delivering Research Methods through English since 2016. The main subjects I deliver include, Sociology, Geography, History, Social and Political Science.  I am currently the owner and the examinations officer of our centre. The O’Brien Language and Examination Centre.   Registered Centre no. 74264 with the AQA examinations board since 2013.

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