What do you enjoy most about being Head of House?
I enjoy being in the Senior Centre and amongst the girls each day. I enjoy developing relationships, learning about what motivates and interests students so that I can help support them to make informed choices about their futures. I also love the collegiality of our Head of House office and the wellbeing team. We laugh a lot!
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I was passionate about sport from a really young age and was involved in anything my Mum and Dad would take me too. I was lucky enough to have a great PE teacher and a swimming coach who inspired me to keep fit and perform at a high level. I loved the collegiality and comradery of being a part of a team and the sense of achievement when I did my best. Sport can build young people to be strong on the inside, mentally and emotionally and strong on the outside, physically. I love sport and what it teaches you and I wanted to take that passion and share it with others.
Why is wellbeing important to you?
I think positive wellbeing is crucial to success in all areas of life, personally and professionally. Life is busy and the older I become the more it is obvious how crucial it is to make time for things that make a positive impact on my wellbeing. For me, it’s getting up early and doing some exercise; getting to the gym, or going for a run that kick starts me for a successful day. I feel like my approach to the Head of Sport role prior to being a Head of House was always with an emphasis on wellbeing.
Where the focus was on providing opportunities for students to find areas of interest and talent, make friends, learn new skills, participate, problem-solve, have fun and create memories. It is important that our young women feel a sense of belonging.
As a Health and Physical Education teacher, I have spent a lot of time in class over the years explicitly addressing student wellbeing. The range of issues young people are faced with these days are complex and wellbeing has never been more important. We are seeing more relationship breakdowns, issues with social media, and of course mental health. The names of the programs may have changed, but the pedagogy has remained the same. Young people need to be explicitly taught and feel confident in their ability to manage their emotions in a wide array of situations. This is particularly critical when young people are having trouble coping with stress and disappointment.
What does wellbeing mean to you?
Wellbeing means feeling safe, connected to a community, enjoying time with friends, and having a sense of belonging. It means feeling confident to take risks and being resilient enough to recover when things don’t go to plan. It is also about knowing when enough is enough and when to reach out for help. Being connected to a school community and knowing who you can reach out to for support and assistance are important protective factors against poor mental health for young people. Positive wellbeing enables our girls to learn more efficiently, engage positively with their peers and teachers, and develop meaningful relationships.
What inspires you now in teaching?
I am inspired by my peers, and the community and environment we work hard to create for our young women and each other every day. Being a teenager is challenging in so many ways and I hope we create an environment where our young women feel supported, safe, and a sense of belonging. I want each student to know they are a part of a community and that they matter.
Do you have a highlight/memorable moment from your time at Strathcona?
I really enjoy the House Sport Carnival days: Swimming, Cross Country and Athletics. The themes, the dress-ups, and the chants! I love wearing the coloured zinc, glitter, and ribbons and the way the girls come together and support each other, and the sense of comradery they have. The highlight this year had to be when Findlay won the House Swimming Carnival. I know how hard the captains worked to get the team organised so that everyone could contribute, and it really took a whole team effort from Years 7-12 to make the day so successful. Every member of the Findlay Family that was there owned that achievement and it was great to hear all the cheering and see the smiling faces.
What do you enjoy doing outside the classroom?
I love seeing my friends and family whenever I have a spare minute. They are so incredibly important to me and fill my bucket each day. I have two very busy and energetic kids so my husband and I spend our weekends driving them to football, basketball, and swimming. We ride our bikes on the trails near our house and kick the footy at the oval a lot. I love heading down the beach to Anglesea when we have a chance – it’s our happy place. I also love sleep! And coffee! And food! So I enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking on the weekends.
What advice would you give students?
It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s what we learn from them that counts. Be kind and be a good friend. Find something you love and do it as often as you can. Don’t be in a hurry to grow up, slow down, and enjoy this time.