Staff in the Spotlight: Aimie Clydesdale

Joining the Geelong campus teaching team in 2021, Aimie Clydesdale has walked a slightly different path along an elite sporting journey but has still used her passion for sports and education to achieve success with her students. Aimie joined us to chat about her story.

The Academy: Hi Aimie. How have you found teaching within The Academy Program this year?

Aimie: I love it. It hasn’t come without its challenges, starting fresh anywhere always has some. However, I believe your experience in any job always comes down to the people, and straight away I had the support of Alex Tortora who is the other teacher at the Geelong Campus. With a great group of students, I feel like I settled in well.

TA: You join The Academy from a different background to footy; can you tell us about your experience as a high-performing athlete?

A: I’ve been playing professional basketball in the Women’s National Basketball League for 11 years, for which I am a two-time champion. I played 7 seasons for the Dandenong Rangers, 2 seasons for the Adelaide Lightning, and I am coming into my third season with the Southside Flyers. I’ve been so lucky to have travelled overseas to represent Australia at the U17 & U19 World Championships, win a gold medal at the World University Games, and have been a part of our national Opals Squad throughout my time. Typically I spend half the year as a full-time athlete, and the other half playing semi-professionally and working as a teacher. I feel incredibly grateful for the experiences, relationships, and life lessons that professional sport has given me over the years.

TA: What about your teaching background? How long have you been a teacher and what motivated you originally to pursue this pathway?

A: When I first left school I started a degree in Nursing & Paramedics. I loved helping others, however these occupations didn’t fit in with sport due to their shift nature. So, while I was working as a professional athlete, I decided to complete my double degree in Science and Secondary Education. My motivation was that I still wanted to be in a career that helped others, and this way, I could combine that with my passion for sport. I graduated in 2018, I then worked in the Rowville Sports Academy for a year or so before moving to Western Heights College to be a part of their new Specialist Basketball Program and The Academy Program.

TA: What are your feelings towards using students’ passion (e.g. footy/sport) as a way of connecting them with their academic education and helping them learn better?

A: Before I had the opportunity to be a part of this program, my teaching philosophy was always to combine what I had learned through sport, and transfer that into the classroom. It allows me to help my students become, first and foremost, better people, but also to be better students and better athletes. Sport teaches you many transferable skills that help you in life and in the workplace. It’s incredibly inclusive, teaches you respect, and how to work hard – plenty of life lessons! I love how The Academy captures these boys’ interest and passion for football to make their education more relevant for them and help re-engage them in their learning. There is a really nice holistic approach to the Program.

TA: Specifically talking about The Academy Program then, how have you found working with The Academy curriculum and digital Learning Management System?

A: I have loved working with The Academy curriculum and LMS. I find the content very relevant to these young boys’ lives, and it links directly to their passion for football. We are able to have great conversations about important topics in a safe and supportive environment. The way the program is set up on the LMS platform also allows for the boys to see where they are going and learn self-management skills.

TA: Can you share with us any achievements or favourite moments that you’ve shared with your students this year?

A: They might not sound like massive achievements or big moments, but my favourite moments have probably been the small wins. For example, witnessing them help each other in class, the leaders leading by example, and seeing my relationships with the boys develop as trust grow… all the little things matter in the life of a teacher! I have also enjoyed learning more about my own teaching.

TA: Thanks for your time, Aimie. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you or any shoutouts you’d like to give?

A: I certainly do not work alone at the Geelong Campus. The boys are incredibly lucky to have Alex Tortora teach them in the classroom and out on the field, and Tom Hornsey as their strength and conditioning coach. The support I have had has been amazing. Alex has done an incredible job building the culture of the program in its early stages at Geelong. There are high expectations for all the boys to succeed, and Alex makes sure the environment we provide allows them to do so. I like to think I have taken a kind and caring approach towards delivering this Program. I hope the boys leave knowing that being a good person is first and foremost above being a good student or athlete. That one always comes first.

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