When did you commence teaching at BGS, and what roles have you held?
I commenced as a Middle School Core teacher of Maths and SOSE (Geography/History) in Year 7 when the Middle School opened in 2003. I still remember removing the plastic off the carpet in the new building the week before the first Middle School students arrived.
I have played a role in coordinating the curriculum in the Middle School for about 15 years, most recently as the Head of Middle School Curriculum. I have taught across six academic departments and coached or coordinated too many sports and activities to name, including long stints with debating and Inter School Christian Fellowship. For almost all of that time, I have been a form tutor to Year 6 or Year 7 students.
In your view, what sets BGS apart from other schools?
Two things. Firstly, my experience has been that BGS truly walks the talk in valuing both participation and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of school life – academic, socially and in co-curricular activities.
There is a culture amongst students that is infectious and, in time, draws most in to be more motivated and participatory people than they otherwise would have been. While skill in sport is admired, students equally value and respect academic achievement and excellence in the Arts and lesser-known pursuits.
Students don’t need to become one-dimensional at BGS, and many boys display remarkable breadth of involvement. Through explicit instruction and modelling, students become very accepting of others with a wide range of personalities, backgrounds, and interests.
Secondly, I have been privileged to work with so many incredibly talented and caring teachers and other staff who willingly collaborate to help the School achieve its mission and live by its values.
I’m a little biased about the Middle School, but I think that these characteristics have been very prominently on display there and have helped lay an incredibly strong foundation in all aspects of school life which individuals and cohorts have been able to capitalise on in their senior years. Many other schools ignore the nuanced needs of students in this age bracket or provide a Middle School structure that is largely “in name only”.
What is your favourite rite of passage initiative at BGS?
This is a difficult choice, but I find it hard to go past the Valedictory Dinner. As well as attending my own sons’ final school evenings as a parent, I have been to Valedictory most years, invited by students that I have maintained contact with from their time in the Middle School through co-curricular activity.
I draw great satisfaction from seeing students as they finish the School as young men, knowing that I have contributed something to their development. It is the bittersweet mix of seeing them come to terms with having to part with the School community after such a long time, while recognising how well prepared most are to take that step. There haven’t been too many years when emotion hasn’t caught up with me on these evenings.
Best advice for students?
Give things a go, including stepping well out of your comfort zone. Be comfortable being authentic. Accept others for who they are, look for positive aspects in every person to value and learn from, and speak out that positivity. Display gratitude at every opportunity – to peers, staff and parents. Be curious and learn for the sake of learning, not just for assessment or recognition.
Your time at BGS will pass more quickly than you think – spend more time enjoying the present than reliving the past or dreaming about the future. Nil Sine Labore.
What are you looking forward to most about becoming Head of Year 5 in 2023?
Our youngest students are incredibly enthusiastic and energetic. They smile often, involuntarily gasp in wonder, and are always willing to be inspired. With a newly enlarged cohort of 150 individuals, each day is sure to be challenging and rewarding. The 2023 Year 5 core teaching team, including Assistant Head of Year Justin Shears, is wonderfully talented, collegial, and committed to working with these boys to establish a community that all members will be eager to be a part of. It’s going to be a great year!
- Journey - December 2022