Skip to main content

DCG Success Stories

Laura Smith

Introduction to Upcycling teacher Laura Smith holding a wreath she created.

Study Type: Adult and Community
Study Location: Ilkeston
Subject Studied: Community Learning

Craft student turned teacher Laura recognised in national Green Commitment Award

Passing on her extensive upcycling knowledge has earned Derby College student turned teacher Laura Smith a runner up place in the National Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Student Green Commitment Award. 

Laura, a crafter, first came to Derby College Group’s Ilkeston college in May to do a free upcycling course and so impressed her tutors with her abilities that she was offered a teaching role.  

She said: “When I first started teaching upcycling at Ilkeston I had just one class per week.

“That’s now grown to three, with student numbers going from five to 15 a week in just nine months.

“Learning upcycling is so popular that there are now plans to run a similar course at DCG’s St James Centre in Derby.  

“I’m so happy to be a runner up in this category of the Student of the Year Awards. Tackling climate change is the responsibility of us all and I firmly believe that sustainability is something schools and colleges should be teaching.

“I’m pleased too that the classes have shown people that caring for our environment doesn’t have to be boring, upcycling is fun and it saves you money.” 

Laura – who previously ran her own crafting business – is now studying for the Award in Education and Training Level 3 teaching qualification at DCG. 

She is also working with Mollie Cox, DCG’s sustainability officer, to look at ways in which the college can upcycle its own used items, such as animal feed sacks at Broomfield Hall.  

Laura, who has two children, has a background in retail and started on the shopfloor, working her way up to management.  

She added: “All the skills, experience and qualifications in retail and customer service I’ve picked up along the way are so useful in my role as a crafter and teacher.” 

Because of Derby College I’ve come full circle, fulfilling my dream to teach but later in my life.