Most of us can recall a favourite teacher from when we were young – someone who had a lasting impact on us, either because they were infectiously passionate about their subject, or took a special interest in our learning, or encouraged us to be more than we thought we could be. For me, it was a combination of three teachers across my final years of school, a Literature teacher, an English teacher and an Historian, each of whom were completely different in their manner and approach, but who were each passionate about books and reading and learning, who each expected high standards of me and who each ultimately shaped my university education and my path to becoming a teacher.
Not all my teachers had such a positive impact – there are some that I would rather forget, people who did not seem to enjoy their jobs or even like children, and who left scars. They too shaped me, I suppose, and inspired me to be a better and more compassionate teacher through their negative example. Teachers have such powerful impacts on their students; it is our huge privilege and a great responsibility.
In my time at Camberwell Grammar I have been very lucky in recent years to have worked with two extraordinary women. Each of them, in their own way, have been inspirational teachers, and I suspect that many of our students will remember them one day as one of their favourite teachers. Unfortunately, both of them are leaving us at the end of 2017.
Ms Rachael Falloon has been a wonderful Deputy Head and Head of Senior School over the past eight years. She has been a trailblazer: the first female Deputy in our history, and one of the very few female Deputies in a boys’ school in Australia. Rachael’s work ethic is just amazing. She has worked tirelessly in the interests of our school and our students, and has been meticulous in every aspect of her role. She has developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of Camberwell Grammar School – if any of us want to know anything about anything at our school we just ‘ask Rachael’. She has been a caring and patient Maths teacher – working, especially with students who struggle with mathematics, and she has given many of them newfound confidence in the subject, and in themselves. Most impressively, she has been a constant advocate for all our students – her ‘young men’ – demanding high standards from them but showing great compassion too when needed. She leaves us to take on the role of Principal at Fintona Girls’ School and we wish her all the very best as she realises her long-held ambition to be the Head of her own school.
If it is difficult to imagine Camberwell without Rachael, it is almost impossible to imagine our school without Mrs Elizabeth Board. Liz has had a varied career, as a PE Teacher, primary teacher, librarian, Head of a Junior School, Head of Development at Trinity College, Melbourne University but I think it would be fair to say that her second home has become Camberwell Grammar School.
In recent times, much has already been said about Liz’s contribution to our school. It is hard to know how to define it. She has become the benchmark for the roles of Director of the Foundation and Executive Officer of the Old Boys – which are her official jobs – but there is not a dimension of our school that she has not been influential.
She is the Oracle we visit when we need wisdom. Everyone, no matter their role in the community, looks to Liz for guidance. She has taught hundreds of students to write better, and develop their thinking skills, and many recall her as their favourite English teacher. She has also tutored and nurtured many struggling students and helped them through their VCE. She now retires to pursue other activities, especially in the field of training and further education – she will not be idle.
Liz and Rachael have made wonderful contributions to the life of Camberwell Grammar School. We are forever in their debt. I suspect, however, that their greatest legacy will be found in the hearts and minds of the boys they have taught. Their greatest and most influential role has been as ‘teacher’, and for that, we thank them.