Ms Rebecca Campbell: Middle School matriarch
For as long as she can remember, Rebecca Campbell wanted to be a primary school teacher. Nothing makes her happier than big smiles in the ‘aha’ moments when her students learn something new.
Proving just how inspirational teachers can be to their students’ career choices, Ms Campbell did work experience under the mentorship of her own Year 1 teacher when she was a teenager.
“I had really wonderful teachers, so I wanted to become one too,” Ms Campbell said.
A stint teaching the same class for Year 4 and Year 5 in London also proved to Ms Campbell that teachers can influence their students in all kinds of ways.
“A few of them picked up little Australian accents,” she recalled. “The parents would come and say, ‘oh my goodness I can hear you in some of the words they’re saying’. It was a little embarrassing.”
Her calm and gentle nature makes her the perfect leader of the Middle School, a comfort for parents who want to know their boys are in the best hands.
Starting at BGS in 2013, Ms Campbell was hired as the first Head of Year 5 and 6. This was in the lead up to Year 5 students being welcomed to the School for the first time in 2014.
She acted in the Head of Middle School role in 2017, and again from 2018 to 2020, before being appointed permanently in the position in 2021.
It is a role she takes very seriously.
“I make sure the needs of the Middle School are being met within the whole School system, working across curriculum, cocurricular and student wellbeing.
“I’m passionate about middle schooling because it is a critically important time for students during those tricky adolescent years when they need supportive people around them.
“I say to the boys that it is a learning journey, and you’re going to take a misstep from time to time, but what matters is how you pick yourself up and dust yourself off.”
Over her time, she has watched the Middle School numbers grow by about 150 students to today’s cohort of around 780. For Ms Campbell, teaching the boys about the School value of respect is an ongoing lesson.
“It is about teaching boys to value and appreciate diversity – regardless of gender, nationality or religion. Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and respectfully.
“I think BGS is a school that truly values the input of women – you look at our Senior Leadership Team, it is very balanced, which I think is remarkable at a boys’ school.”
Ms Jacqui Zervos: Into the new era
Ms Jacqui Zervos, a 28-year veteran of BGS, can remember a time when she was one of only a handful of female teachers at the School.
“When I arrived, I think there were about 120 staff, and I was one of about 10 females,” she said. "Now, the gender balance is about 50/50, which reflects the real world in which these boys live.”
Ms Zervos, one of three women on the BGS Senior Leadership team, leads the important task of mapping out the School’s evolution in student and teacher learning.
As Executive Director of Educational Innovation, Ms Zervos is always looking for new ways to build better student-teacher relationships, improve academic results and help students hone critical thinking skills.
“It is about improving the quality of the students’ thinking and positioning them for whatever waits for them beyond the school gates,” Ms Zervos said.
“This requires our students to have subject mastery and know how to create new ideas from that knowledge.
“They also need to know how to draw together information from within and across subjects to solve complex problems, while being aware of thinking, persisting and controlling emotions.”
When Queensland shifted to the QCE/ATAR system, Ms Zervos played a crucial role in preparing BGS students adapt and excel in the new environment.
“We invested a lot of time in not only absorbing everything about the new system, but we took a deep look into our past, examining the historical legacy of our academic program, in order to decide what must come with us into the new era and what we must let go.
“When people think innovation, they think of innovation in new materials and in tangible outcomes, but our focus has been very much on innovation in thought.”
Drawing on research literature about how teachers best learn, she has worked with her team to develop programs to help teachers improve their practice.
This includes professional learning sessions, a coaching program, and opportunities for teachers to visit the classrooms of their colleagues.
Evaluating the program has revealed significant evidence of transformative teaching in every department, Ms Zervos said, which is backed up by the School’s incredible academic results, as well as feedback from teachers who say they’re educating and connecting to students in more meaningful, authentic and ultimately successful ways.
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