We often expect Drama teachers to be the terribly creative type, who have done fantastically interesting things. Toly Sawenko wrote and directed a comedy show called ‘Comedy Void’ for the Melbourne International Comedy festival, which is a pretty impressive start to his career in the creative arts.
Music has also become a major theme in his life and he hopes to produce an album this year, having started song writing about 5 years ago.
In 2005 Toly graduated from the University of Ballarat with a Bachelor in Theatre Performance and then in 2009 completed a Diploma in Education, Secondary Teaching, at La Trobe University in Melbourne.
Before commencing work at Girton Grammar as a Drama teacher, Toly had a string of hospitality jobs at pubs around Melbourne, worked at David Jones in the city for a couple of years and then had a brief stint at Galvin Park Secondary College in Werribee as a Drama teacher. Along the way, he has written for radio, directed and produced a short film and been involved in producing comedy shows.
Toly said he never imagined that he would end up teaching at the school he had attended as a student.
“I mean that in the most positive way. I did not think I would be privileged enough to be teaching at school filled with such lovely students and wholesome staff.
“The teacher that had the most impact on me was Mr Daryl Headlam. Being a former actor he had so much knowledge about performance and how it could be used.
“He also had a love of theatre, particularly complex subject matter and it was a joy to study this material in my years at Secondary school,” he said.
Toly is one of those people who sees life through a very positive lens, to the point where he believes that good plays and films are ultimately and quite simply, about people needing to treat each other in a better way.
“For me, teaching Drama is about students understanding that it is more about ‘exploring than about ‘knowing’.
“It gives me immense satisfaction when students show support and respect for one another,” he said.
Toly remembers going into the John E. Higgs Hall for the last time for assembly before the venue was changed to the new gym next to the Londonderry Reserve.
“The entire Senior School campus is currently located in a place that was never used while I was at school.
“The school is growing and it’s very exciting that there are greater resources and opportunities for the students today,” he said.