Former students inspired to teach at Ocean Reef Senior High School

Ocean Reef Senior High School teachers Jarrod Phillips (Head Boy 2012), Rachel Cook (Head Girl 2004) and Gavin Young (Head Boy 2013) with their leavers jackets. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d496421
Ocean Reef Senior High School teachers Jarrod Phillips (Head Boy 2012), Rachel Cook (Head Girl 2004) and Gavin Young (Head Boy 2013) with their leavers jackets. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d496421

THE influence their teachers had has brought three former students back to their high school to teach.

Rachel Cook, Gavin Young and Jarrod Phillips all attended Ocean Reef Senior High School and were student leaders during their respective final years.

Now they are back at the school as teachers themselves.

Mr Phillips was a student from 2008-12 and head boy for his last year.

He said he enjoyed many aspects of high school, including sport and the students he went through it with.

“The sheer size of it was exciting coming from a small primary school,” he said.

Ocean Reef Senior High School teachers Jarrod Phillips (Head Boy 2012), Rachel Cook (Head Girl 2004) and Gavin Young (Head Boy 2013) with their leavers jackets. Picture: David Baylis

Having enjoyed learning social studies, Mr Phillips has become a humanities and social sciences teacher, taking years 8, 9, 10 and 12 since he started teaching at the school in 2018.

He said many of his teachers were still at the school and were now colleagues.

“I’m pretty lucky to be able to call them my friends,” he said.

“My mum and dad always thought I would end up teaching.

“It certainly wasn’t something I desperately wanted to do when I first went to uni.”

Mr Phillips said when he started doing practical placements, he felt confident and the more he taught, the more he enjoyed it.

“Even now as an employee of the school I do like doing it more and more,” he said.

“Every day is something new.”

Mr Young also attended the school from Year 8 to 12, finishing as head boy in 2013 and he most enjoyed taking part in the surf cadets program.

“Spending time with mates and teachers out of school was awesome,” he said.

Mr Young said his experience with teachers drew him to becoming a science teacher.

“They were the ones that inspired me to do it,” he said.

“I only realised how much of an impact they had on the direction of my life later on.”

Mr Young said he returned to the school to help as a cadets instructor while studying at uni, and, after finishing his science degree and diploma of education, he returned as a teacher for years 8, 9 and 10 this year.

He said the most rewarding aspect was watching students improve, develop and grow as young individuals – “the light bulb moment you get when something clicks”.

The teachers said there were challenges, but those could turn into rewarding aspects of the job when they saw how students progressed.

Mr Young said it was a privilege to be back at Ocean Reef SHS teaching.

“It’s an incredible school,” he said.

Ocean Reef Senior High School teachers Jarrod Phillips, Rachel Cook and Gavin Young with Year 8 students. Picture: David Baylis

As well as the familiar faces and sights, Mr Phillips said he enjoyed seeing students progress, either academically or in their attitudes towards school.

“Seeing them grow as people, with their marks – that’s really really rewarding,” he said.

Mr Phillips said teaching involved building relationships with students, who he could bond with over a shared interest in sport and ask about how their junior footy or cricket went over the weekends.

“The school has always been good, from the time that I was there as a student,” he said.

“It’s a great place to be; I wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else.”

October 25 is World Teachers Day, an opportunity to recognise the role teachers play in shaping the next generation.

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