By Lucy Gowdie
THE paths we walk in education, the roads we travel, are often so fast paced, we forget to look back at the steps we have taken. Yet sometimes, every now and again, the road catches up with us and we realise, what we left behind mattered.
As a young graduate teacher, only three years older than the Year 12 cohort I taught, I relied on my untested resolve and unyielding energy to engage my students in their learning. In that classroom, sat an even younger Samantha Hutston, a quiet and shy learner, with a passion for literature and a penchant for exceptional essay writing.
As an aspiring leader, now substantially older than the Year 12 cohort I taught, I relied on my years of experience in curriculum design and my understanding of co-education, to engage my students in their learning. In that classroom sat an even younger, Madeleine Dwyer, a quiet and shy learner, with a passion for politics and a penchant for pushing herself.
As an experienced Deputy Principal, I stand today, shoulder to shoulder with these two women, these educational leaders in their own right, profoundly proud of who they have become and hoping that the time I spent teaching them, had a small part to play in their decisions to choose the education profession.
They say that the legacies we gift our schools as leaders, cannot be measured in outcome, but rather we should look to the influence we have had on others, to the indelible marks we have left on our young people so that they may pursue excellence in their own lives.
When I look at Sami and Maddy today, when I hear colleagues speaking of their ingenuity and their energy, when I see students focused and absorbed in their classrooms, I realise that they will be celebrated and successful leaders in their own right. Both women possess the innate understanding of the vocation of teaching and a quiet humility that belies their exceptional strength and skill.
They say that life comes full circle, and so when I learnt in January, that Grace Handley, a student of Maddy’s, had chosen a career in education, I could not but help smile at the stories Maddy and Grace will now be able to share; as the next generation of exceptional educators forges a path of possibility for the young men and women of Peninsula Grammar School.
Education needs leaders who believe in the vocation of teaching, who work in the service of others. Those who share a quiet resolve to change the world, but a fierce determination to see their students succeed.
I am immensely proud of Sami, of Maddy and of Grace, for choosing to forge their own paths, to travel their own roads and to share in the joy and privilege that it is to work in education.