Grammarian Madeleine Harley (Bacon, 2000) says it might sound trite to say she is here to give back to her old school, but she is looking forward to giving students the same opportunities she had as a student at CGGS.
As the new Head of English Faculty in the Senior School, Maddie says, “it was certainly very comfortable coming back in as a staff member, knowing that I already had a place here.”
“It’s lovely being in a community where everyone actually celebrates the fact that this is where we’re from.”
Becoming a teacher was never really on the cards for Maddie when she graduated from CGGS, despite the “primitive” careers quiz she took in Year 10 that strongly suggested she would be suited to teaching (eight out of ten results included ‘teacher’ in the job title).
It wasn’t until she was studying an Arts degree at ANU that she realised the idea of teaching had stuck in the back of her mind. She enrolled in a Diploma of Education and never looked back.
“I got a job tutoring at the Australian Institute of Sport in the evenings while I was doing my teaching qualifications, and even though I wasn’t in a classroom, I was like, ‘Yes, this is the right move.’”
“Once I got in there, whilst there were times when I was terrified, the classroom is the place I love to be.”
“Seeing that moment where a student suddenly says, ‘Oh, now I get it,’ or ‘I didn’t expect to like this book, but I loved it!’, it’s just little things like that…it’s about every student being able to get to the end of the year and feeling like they are a step ahead of where they were a term ago, no matter where they started.”
“I think sometimes there is a perception with English that it’s ‘the compulsory subject that I have to do,’ so it’s about maintaining that passion in [the students], for the subject and continuing the relevance for them.”
“And I’ve got such a great team in the English [Faculty], they are such a great group.”
Adding to the comfort and familiarity of returning to her old school, Maddie finds herself working alongside someone who left a lasting impression on her when she was a student.
“Rachel Vance taught me. She was my Year 12 English teacher!”
Maddie’s daughters will commence in the Junior School next year, becoming third generation Grammarians - Maddie's mother is Sue Hart (Grant, 1972).
“They are so excited – they feel part of the community already.”
And what about Book Week?
“I’m nervous, but super excited about Book Week! It sounds massive but I think it’s lovely to have a secondary school that celebrates it…it’s embraced with such enthusiasm and I think that just goes to show the English Faculty is a vibrant department within the school.”
“We’ve got about 30 students doing Write a Book in a Day – that’s an amazing number of kids getting involved in an activity like that. I just think it’s fabulous.”
Photo above: Maddie (left) with Year 7 student Jasmine Byrne as she celebrates the milestone of reading over a million words since the start of 2019.