Liz Tobias has left virtually no Girton stone unturned in her 24 years of teaching at the school, having graced the Junior School, Senior School and the Boarding House.
After about 7 years of Primary teaching in Castlemaine, Inglewood, Marong and at Kalianna Special School in Bendigo, Liz’s journey at Girton College began as a Grade 6 teacher in 1988.
Liz’s enthusiasm for teaching is tangible and when asked her favourite year level to teach, she says that every year that she has taught has become her new favourite at that time.
But she does profess to currently love teaching Year 7 and 8 students who she says feel constantly on the edge of something bigger and you get the feeling she enjoys their influence in keeping her young at heart.
“These young teenagers are fascinating. They are on the cusp, ready for new challenges, open to new things, developing creative minds and whilst full on, they are a lot of fun,” Liz said.
Liz’s enthusiasm for her profession is clearly contagious, with two children of her own, both teachers and both married to teachers.
Jonathan, 33, and married to Sarah, has spent a good portion of his Primary and Secondary teaching career on remote aboriginal communities in Cape York. They have a daughter Bonnie, who is one. Prue, now 30 is married to Sam and is currently on maternity leave from Girton Grammar Junior School following the birth of her second child, Ned, little brother to Evie.
“I actually taught Jonathan in my Year 5 class at Girton College and it was one of my happiest years of teaching, partly thanks to our understanding that what happened at home stayed at home!,” Liz said.
For over two years Liz lived in the Girton Grammar Boarding House, so it was teaching by day and supervising students by night. Both her (then adult) children shared the role with her on and off during that time with the house on Rowan Street behind the Boarding House becoming both their home and their work with a revolving front door.
Liz’s next teaching adventure was a foray into Girton Senior School to teach year 7 to 10.
English, History, Maths, Personal Development and Geography are her mainstay and with a love of language, reading and writing, Liz teaches these subjects with aplomb.
“There’s so much to like about teaching humanities,” Liz says.
“Geography covers every aspect of our life, English shapes everything we do and PD, well, what’s not to like about teaching teenagers about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll – it’s a fun journey,” she said.
One of Liz’s stand-out moments at Girton Grammar was taking part in the four week World Challenge in Vietnam.
“At the time I was a 53 year old hiking through leech infested jungle with a bunch of very fit teenagers.
“It was a very pivotal moment for me and the first time I had spent any length of time travelling in a developing country, so to do it with a group of eager and adaptable Girton students was a real privilege,” she said.
The two biggest changes to the school in Liz’s 20 years have been the sheer size of the school as it expanded across two campuses and the increased use of technology in the classroom.
“We’ve gone from blackboards to iPads in my time here at Girton which has profoundly changed the way we all teach,” she said.
“But many principles remain and things like getting younger students to write a letter to themselves to be opened at the end of their Year 12, never goes out of favour with students.
“Watching them read their own twelve year old hopes and dreams as an 18 year old is usually very amusing and sometimes touching.”
Liz said that she loves the unpredictability of where her students sometimes end up.
“I’ve had students who hated having to write neatly or rule a page become Walkley Award winners and others who said they would never teach, ending up as colleagues,” she said.
Liz’s link with Girton Grammar is generational with her maternal grandmother, Mary Taylor, starting the family connection as a Girtonian in 1905. The OGA congratulates Liz on a passionate and distinguished career at the school and hopes that her relationship with the school continues well beyond her years of teaching.
“Girton has given me years of performing, laughing, pretending, dreaming, hoping, trying and celebrating successes,” Liz Tobias