Graduate story: Matt Rolfe

Matt Rolfe

Matt Rolfe
Science, maths and PDHPE teacher
St Mary's Catholic College, Casino
Bachelor of Health Science (Human Movement), now a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science
Graduate Diploma of Education, now a Master of Teaching

Matt Rolfe has led a scientific expedition in search of the mythical Yeti, climbed some of the toughest mountains in the Nepal Himalaya, run his own corporate training business, developed exercise programs for soldiers training at altitude and was supermodel Elle Macpherson's personal trainer. His latest challenge: inspiring teenagers.

"Having the opportunity to change the lives of young people at that point where they're malleable and challenging and forming their beliefs is a privilege. If you're a charismatic teacher, you have the opportunity to be influential with these kids. There's an enormous amount of accountability and responsibility that goes along with that.

"I'm always looking to grow personally and professionally. I love teaching. I've trained adults my whole life. Teaching teenagers is a tough profession but much more rewarding; you're tapping into their mental and emotional state while educating them at the same time. I enjoy creating my own pedagogical practice and sharing learnings from my life experiences. A 16-year-old boy wrote me a note during a retreat: 'Sir, I have an enormous amount of respect for you. You inspire me. Please never leave.' If that doesn't inspire you to get out of bed and put a decent lesson plan together, then nothing ever will."

Matt so impressed the staff at St Mary's during his last teaching prac that he was offered immediate casual work and a full contract job before he graduated.

"The prac and casual work were a great opportunity to show what I was capable of. St Mary's has very high expectations and strong leadership, so their teachers must be on the ball."

Matt said SCU's teaching degree was relevant.

"The way the course was taught helped me design a pedagogical approach that suited me. The lecturers prepared us to be confident in front of a class, which happens early in the course. Sure you make errors, that's what your first prac attempt is about. You go into the psychology of teaching after that and begin to understand student behaviour.

"The face-to-face science curriculum specialisations were taught by practising high school teachers, who were some of the best around. We got lots of help from SCU's science tutors which was great. I did extra science units, like coastal biogeochemistry, so I could teach chemistry as well as biology and it's all extremely relevant to what I teach my students now."

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