Here For Her

Throughout the month of October, the world celebrates World Teachers’ Day and the International Day of the Girl. Every day I see my staff inspiring, encouraging and supporting students and helping to shape the leaders of the future.
Ms Lee-Anne Marsh

Lee-Anne MMs Lee-Anne Marsh is the Head of Health and Physical Education and the Coordinator of Wellbeing.

“All along through my teaching, I’ve had this ability to connect with young people, which is as simple as being able to talk to them. I see teaching as being so much more than teaching a subject. We teach life skills to young people that help shape who they want to become. In order to do that we need to know those students really well.”

“We talk a lot about the spirit of Toorak College and it is hard to define. When you see the way the girls engage in activities such as House events or book club, and their commitment to those activities, then you understand what the meaning of Toorak spirit is. I’ve seen it right throughout my 22 years here.”

Miss Jessica Koch

Jessica KMiss Jessica Koch is a Teacher in the Junior School and the Spiritual Education coordinator at Toorak College. She is passionate about student wellbeing and pastoral care.

“My favourite moment in teaching is when students make connections to their learning and put it into action outside of school. For example, a few years ago we started a tradition in my classroom called “Thank you Thursday”. A few weeks later, a family shared how they were inspired to start a “Thank You Jar” at home and begin their own gratitude tradition around the dinner table.”

“Another moment was when a mother came to me and explained that her daughter applied the growth mindset statements we used in class and shared them with her her family at home. When faced with a challenge she said, “I can’t do it YET, but I’ll keep on trying”.

Miss Madison Bishop

Madison BMiss Madison Bishop is the VCE Product Design and Technology Teacher as well as a Year 7 to 10 Visual Arts and Technology Teacher.

“I aim to create a safe, collaborative, supportive, inclusive environment conducive to learning. A classroom environment that challenges students to try new things, without fear of making mistakes and empowers students to develop innovative design solutions for real world problems.”

“A specific moment was when one of my Year 12 students returned to school to visit me after her final exams. She had always struggled to finish her exams within the allotted time and it was something we had really focused on throughout her final year. I was so pleased to hear her say all her hard work had paid off and she had not only finished her exam but also achieved an outstanding result that she was very proud of.”

Mr Andrew Bertschik

Andrew BMr Andrew Bertschik is in his first year of teaching at Toorak College, educating the girls in the fields of Science and VCE Biology.

“One part of our role as teachers is to care for the welfare of girls by regularly checking in with them both informally and on a more formal basis. The more we engage, converse and get to know the girls, the more natural and comfortable these interactions become. It is really important for the girls to know they have somebody in which they can talk to, support them and assure them with a sense of positivity that they can achieve their dreams.”

“The best way for me to describe the atmosphere at Toorak is ‘alive’. It continues to amaze me just how involved all the girls are in the never ending House and co-curricular opportunities.”

Mrs Jenny Warner

Jenny WMrs Jenny Warner is a proud member of the Toorak College community. She has worked at the School for 15 years (10 years with International students and almost 5 years in the Retail Centre).

“I attended the school as a student from Year 7 to 12. My mother worked here for 22 years, my husband currently works here, and now my daughter is a student here. My family is very invested in Toorak College!”

“The staff in the Retail Centre are one of the first faces a new student will see when they first visit Toorak College so it is important to make them feel comfortable and supported. I am involved in a students’ beginning, when they arrive shy and uncertain, and watch them grow in confidence over time into young adults. Not only do I love helping and serving the people who come to the shop but I enjoy being involved in the school activities. I enjoy building the friendships with my colleagues and I adore being part of something that is all-inclusive, supportive, proud and inspiring. At last year’s Speech Night an observer said to me: ‘You don’t just attend Toorak College, you belong to it’… and they are right. That is how I feel now, and how I did 30 years ago.”

Mrs Emma Patchett

Emma PMrs Emma Patchett is devoted Toorak girl! She has worked at Toorak College for nearly 10 years and is currently the Senior School receptionist and Boarding House assistant.

“Many years ago during Year 8 camp at Wilsons Promontory, I was supporting a group of girls on an overnight hike - about 20km to Sealers Cove. They were very resistant to carrying tents and packs to our overnight destination in very hot weather. I had tried all manners of encouragement and persuasion to no avail. Then I had a brainwave - food! Food is definitely the key to a girls’ hearts here. I promised the girls that if they completed the hike, I would reward them with lemonade icy poles. Those icy poles never tasted so good to them. To this day, when I see those girls they still remember that icy pole at the end of that hike!”

“The key word to describing the atmosphere of Toorak College is ‘spirit’. As I am a Collegian, past parent and staff member, I know that the spirit is timeless.”

Ms Kelly Robertson

Kelly RMs Kelly Robertson is the Head of Year 10 and a VCE English Teacher. She also takes an interest in teaching dance to her students.

"One thing that I really value is having a good rapport with students. I try to get to know who they are and keep tabs on how they are doing, not just academically, but personally too. I aim to create a classroom environment where humour is injected into the mix and we can have a laugh while we learn.”

“I also get to support the girls’ endeavours in areas like dance, from the students who have never danced before to those who have a great passion for it. Dance is growing at Toorak and we have so many girls who love it. It is about expression of ideas and putting that to music. There is great comradery in learning choreography, to dance as a team in unison, and to experience the thrill of performance together.”

Mrs Deb Gardener

Deb GMrs Deb Gardener is the Director of Sport at Toorak College.

“I love coaching teams and strive to develop self-efficacy in students so they can become lifelong participants in sport and physical activity. It is amazing to see what our students can achieve when their coaches encourage them to believe in themselves. I aim to create a team environment where a team’s spirit can lift everyone’s performance.”

“Some of my students asked me if they could enter an after school netball competition when they were in Year 6. I said if they were passionate and committed I would enter them and be their coach. Three years later, they are all still playing and they are one of the strongest netball year levels in the school. I love that there were students who never played netball before, who gave it a go and are now playing at a high level.”

Ms Chantal Berlouis

Chantal BFor the last 3 years, Ms Chantal Berlouis has worked in Toorak College’s Student Services office.

“When a student is new, one of the first places they come to is Student Services. I love talking with them, giving them encouragement on their first day of school, and trying to settle their nerves. I hope they feel like they are starting in a caring and nurturing environment."

“I do believe it is the little things that we do that can have the biggest impact on our students. I aim to support the students by being a familiar happy face that they can approach at any time. My family were new arrivals to Australia from the Seychelles Islands in the 1970's and growing up in a bilingual family had it's challenges when integrating into school and the community. Now I try to be inclusive of everyone that I come across in life, and I never forget a face! I believe everybody has something positive to offer and by doing small things like saying “hello” or giving someone a friendly smile can make a big difference to that person’s day.”

Ms Emma Jensen

Emma JMs Emma Jensen has been working at Toorak College for 26 years as Head of Drama and Dance.

“I work really hard on creating a really warm and friendly environment where students can explore, challenge themselves and take risks. Working for four years as the Year 11 coordinator allowed me to work closely with the girls on a personal level and I was really able to make some significant change to their lives in terms of building confidence and resilience. The girls here work hard. They really enjoy being here and appreciate that Toorak is a special place and that there is so much to gain.”

“I’ve seen the birth of new buildings and programs but in a lot of ways it hasn’t changed at all. In the bricks and mortar is a beautiful spirit that has stayed consistent throughout time.”

Mr Phil Carew

Phil CMr Phil Carew is Head of Digital Technologies and eLearning at Toorak College and has been with the School for seven years.

“We are very progressive in what we do and I’m lucky to have the freedom to take risks. A great example of that is the ‘DIGI Zone,’ which is the digital makerspace that I helped to create. It is an exciting area where students learn a range of digital technologies including how to code, 3D print and participate in Virtual Reality.”

“We are truly promoting and embedding digital technology skills to boost digital engagement for the students and open new doors to their future careers.”

Ms Kylie Nealon

Kylie NMs Kylie Nealon is the Head of English at Toorak College.

“I enjoy being a sounding board for students who sometimes need space to decompress from the pressures of their studies and deadlines. I particularly revel in the moments where I see a student learn and grow from their efforts, recognising that they are capable of more than they originally thought they could achieve."

“It is so important to encourage students to step outside their comfort zone and to celebrate the small wins with them, as this leads to growth in their self-confidence. I love getting to know the girls, what their plans and dreams are, and following up with them in conversations over time to know that they are valued and seen as individuals. It’s ensuring that I support them to see themselves as young women who are capable of changing the world.”

Ms Tijana Nuspahic

Tijana NMs Tijana Nuspahic has been working as a Library Technician at Toorak College for the past five years.

“It was my first year at Toorak College when I realised that even the simplest thing like recommending a book can make a positive impact. Connecting with students through the various library programs and seeing them, gaining confidence and make friends gives me a sense of satisfaction, that I am making a difference in their school experience.”

“My family moved from Bosnia to Australia when I was 16 years old. I had to quickly adapt to a new school environment and learn to speak a new language. I believe that this experience helps me in my role today because I really enjoy learning new things and find that it is easy to relate with people from all walks of life.”

Ms Caralyn Dea

Caralyn DMs Caralyn Dea is the Director of International Education and Boarding at Toorak College.

“The Boarding House is an interesting and exciting place. I try to make it a positive environment for the girls by basing all my decisions on what is best for the girls and keeping that at the centre of all I do. I encourage them to get involved in as much as they can and to develop relationships with everyone around them so that their experience at Toorak is unforgettable."

“Before Toorak, I travelled a lot. I was born on Hayman Island, lived in Mackay, then Sydney and then ventured overseas to reside in Texas. I have also lived in London and later moved to Darwin where I completed my second degree (in teaching) before working in education in the Northern Territory and now on the Mornington Peninsula.”