Secondary teacher

Gemma G.

Secondary teacher

Head of Middle School









On her role

My professional job is Head of the Middle Secondary Academy at an Independent Boys school. In a nut shell, I oversee all aspects of academic and pastoral care,  for all boys in year 9 & 10! 



Do you remember what you wanted to do with your life when you were a teenager?

Yes,be a lawyer. That what everyone else wanted to do to!!! Truth is that i didn't really know!


What was the best career/life advice from a mentor you’ve ever been given? 

When considering applying for a promotion position, my Mentor said to me that if I think I can do a job as 'badly' as someone else, then I should go for it because chances are you can do it BETTER!!


Which part of your job gives you the most satisfaction.

 Working with adolescent kids and always being amazed by thier talent, guts and spunk! 


What one piece of advice would you give to your 15 year old self or younger generations still at school today? Manners and courtesy gets you a long way...and to trust your instinct. 


Did you have any jobs as a teenager? Yes, Maccas!! Started at age13-19. Loved it. Taught me SOO much, gave me a very strong work ethic and the importance of teamwork. 


Did you enjoy school? If so why and if not why not? Yes, i 'liked' school, but didn't love it. Never thought I would become a teacher!


How do you believe schools and or universities might be changed to be more relevant or effective? From my recent experience as a post-grad student at university I felt like that they still had a long way to catch up in regards to making teaching and learning more relevant and effective. Particularly in relation to assessment task and content delivery. 

I can only speak from my experience in the independent school sector, and I believe that students have access to far more resources and opportunities today than were available a decade ago. Particularly in relation to technology, pastoral care, mental health and career advice. In  many ways, despite classroom teaching and delivery of content still largely looking like it did 20+ years ago, I don't think this is a major issue given that progress has occurred in many other aspects of education where it needs to.. i.e the perception of bullying, student special needs, mental health, technological resources etc. 


Final words

After my first degree, (B.Arts) I went to live in Japan to teach English and this was my "sliding doors moment" that made me realise that I wanted to become an educator and work with kids. When I came back, i did a B.Ed in secondary education. Completed my Masters of Ed (Leadership & Management) in 2015. 

Gemma T.

Secondary teacher

On what she does

I am a high school teacher in a Catholic Secondary School. I am qualified to teach

three subjects – Italian, Humanities and Religious Education, but at the moment, I am teaching Religious Education to Year 8,9,10,11 and 12 students.

Do you remember what you wanted to do with your life when you were a



I always knew that I wanted to go to University as a teenager, however,the exact thing, I was unsure of. When I was in my final year of high school, I was leaning towards being a Journalist with the aspiration of getting into television journalism. My Dad wanted me to be a lawyer and my Mum was firmly against me being a teacher, because of the workload.


I remember having a discussion with one of my teachers who asked me what I was going to be doing the year after I finished school. I said that I was taking a gapyear to go and live in Italy for a year, to travel and learn more Italian. She was horrified that I wasn’t continuing my education straight away. I remember her clearly saying, ‘But once you start travelling and working, you will never go back to University.’ However, I returned home from overseas (best decision of my life) and the following February I

started University.


What was the best career/life advice from a mentor you’ve ever been given?


To “control the controllables” – there are certain things in our life that are beyond our control and we can only worry about the things we have control over. This also helps to manage my stress load which I start feeling overwhelmed with how much there is to do some days!


Which part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?


Seeing the students grow and flourish and having a positive, teaching relationship with them.


Teaching is an extremely rewarding profession and seeing the students achieve a great result, smile when they enjoy an activity or collaborate collegially with their friends is heartwarming.


For someone who wants to do your job what skills, experience or qualifications

would you recommend?


Legally, you are required to hold a University qualification in Teaching to become a Secondary Teacher. However, I would highly recommend a love of learning, a love of

children/students and a love for days that will always be changing and different (i.e. not a routine-based job).


Tell us briefly how you ended up doing what you do.


Whilst I was studying at University, I worked part-time in a Catholic Primary School as a Secretary two days a week, doing a whole heap of different tasks. This was an enormous learning opportunity for me!


I graduated from University in July 2011 and was offered a permanent position with a global mining company as a Graduate Human Resources Advisor. I worked in Perth and also, doing FIFO to the Pilbara, working across Dampier and Tom Price.


I quit my job in May 2013 as I was not enjoying FIFO, was missing my

family and friends and did not feel the intrinsic motivation (or that feeling

of making a difference) in my job. Someone else could come and do my

job the next day; I was easily replaceable.


When I returned to Perth, my youngest sister Lucy was diagnosed with

Stage 4 (terminal) brain cancer in June and spent the next 7 months in

Princess Margaret Hospital before passing away in December 2013. During this time, I had no formal job, but I took on a carer role in my family as my parents were separated, my Mum stayed 24/7 at the hospital with my sister, my sister was at Uni and my brother

was in Year 12 doing his ATAR. I basically ran the household at home, and spent 12 hours a day at the hospital.


I did do some contract work for some schools in marketing and communications and I also worked at a University in an Admin role for a few months during this time.


It was during this time that my sister was unwell, that I re-evaluated what I wanted from my life. I wanted to be happy as life can be changed drastically in a heartbeat. I wanted to make a difference in my job and be “irreplaceable”. I wanted to work with young teenagers. I wanted to teach. I enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Education at the beginning of 2014 and graduated in December of 2014.


I started my first teaching position in April 2015.


What one piece of advice would you give to your 15 year old self or younger

generations still at school today?


I remember being very “achievement-orientated” and whilst my parents

never pressured me, I always wanted to do my best. But, that is just it. You

need to just do your best. Now, I would go back and tell myself that

whatever mark you get in Maths or English, doesn’t define you as a

person; it is simply a reflection of your achievement at that one point in


Did you have any jobs as a teenager?


I started working part-time at Dewsons (which has now become IGA!) at

the Checkout, before moving into a management role in the Deli at the

same store.


I also coached sporting teams (netball and volleyball) and tutored other

students, along with some babysitting!


Did you enjoy school? If so why and if not why not?


I was one of a rare few who really enjoyed school! I loved the school


environment and I was blessed to attend a fabulous girls school, which


catered for every aspect of my academic, spiritual and sporting




I loved going to school because I had and still have a strong love of


learning, I loved the opportunity to extend myself and I recall my teachers


being particularly pastoral but firm, and we always got along well.


I was involved in every aspect of school life – academic, music, service, and


sport. My co-curricular participation was outstanding, and I loved every


part of it.

Some extra info about my sisters scenario - here (this beautiful site is really worth


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