Interview with Nerida Newell
Tell us about your current role – what does a typical day look like for you?
I teach Music, Drama, Dance whilst at the same time incorporate Auslan into my classes, three days a week. I am new to Auslan but I have taught the school to sign the National Anthem and I sign all of our assemblies as best I can. I keep other classroom teachers and Specialists informed as to what they should be revising in Auslan each week and I run workshops for our local community/families after school each term. I conduct a choir of 65 students, we perform at festivals, childcare centres and other community events. I also run a school Rock band [18 students]. I write, produce, direct and choreograph all school concerts and help to promote the school in every way possible.
What is the best/most rewarding part of your job?
Giving children a love of music when they didn’t even know they had it! When students have won scholarships at high school and they come and thank me! When students write me cards and letters telling me that I’m the best teacher ever! Every time a student says ‘This is the best day of my life!’ after a concert, band or choir performance. Showing students who struggle with ‘playing’ music that they can still be very talented at ‘creating’ music using technology such as Garageband. Every concert – seeing the reactions of parents (‘How did you get my child to dance like that???’/ ‘How did you choreograph all of that?’) and the students reactions, especially of those children who have stepped out of their comfort zones to perform on a large stage to a huge audience, they always want to do it again! They constantly surprise themselves – and me, and make me so proud!
What were some of the memorable experiences you had at Deakin? i.e. social, academic, intellectual.
O-Week was always the BEST! Free bands, crazy fun games, well organised and everyone participated! Seeing Hoodoo Gurus, Baby Animals, TISM, Things of Stone and Wood… the list goes on. My teachers were all exceptional, especially in PE/Outdoor Education as they were passionate, friendly and had all taught in schools for a long time and had a wealth of knowledge to share! The facilities were outstanding, Apart from car parking, but if you got there early enough a got a free park it was worth it! I was only 17 when I started so commuted from Greensborough, it took three buses and two hours. So when I got my license that May I drove… but could only afford petrol not parking.
Did you learn anything from your Deakin studies to take directly to the workforce?
Because I graduated I became a successful teacher, so yes. But I also learnt that some people (like myself) are born teachers and even though I didn’t receive high marks for my VCE, Deakin Burwood could see from my application that I was so passionate about what I wanted to be that they gave me that chance, and I can’t thank them enough.
What are your career highlights?
All of the school concerts I have written/produced/choreographed/directed. Having my students come second in the National Song writing competition. My choir singing the song ‘Mad World’ for the 9MSN website. My choir singing on many television commercials including Kmart, Myer, Bonds and Xbox. Many performances with my choirs at the State Schools Spectacular, held at Rod Laver Arena. Learning and introducing Auslan into our school curriculum years before the Government asked for it to be included.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about Deakin that we haven’t covered?
The friends I made at Deakin have been lifelong. I love, admire and respect them all and we are so thankful that Deakin was the reason we are in each other’s lives.