Teacher in the Spotlight: Mark Anderson

Joining the Wangaratta campus teaching team in 2022, Mark Anderson has been involved in football since he was old enough to hold a footy on his own, so joining The Academy was an easy decision. Mark has enjoyed teaching the students and seeing them develop during the first half of the year. Mark sat down with The Academy to have a chat about his journey so far.

The Academy: Hi Mark, how have you found teaching within The Academy Program this year?

Mark: My first year at The Academy has been incredible. Having the opportunity to have the same group of students each day rather than teaching 500 different kids a week means I have been able to develop a respectful relationship with each of the boys. I’ve felt extremely supported since day one by my teaching partner, Justin (Skillsy) and everyone in Head Office in Adam, Alex, Jake and Ella making my transition as smooth as possible.

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

Mark: I am in my second year of teaching and my first with The Academy. I developed a passion for teaching during my time at a similar program to The Academy where I was fortunate enough to plan and conduct football clinics and quickly fell in love with the opportunity to pass on knowledge and teach new skills.

The Academy: The Academy program uses students’ passion for footy as the main engagement tool to help them achieve throughout year 11 and 12; can you tell us a little about your background and experiences in the football industry?

Mark: I’ve been involved in football since I was old enough to hold a footy on my own. I spent 16 years at Essendon Doutta Stars in the Essendon District Football League where I played all of my juniors and started my senior career where we won a Premiership in 2015. Since 2018 I have been playing at the Wangaratta Magpies in the Ovens and Murray Football Netball League, unfortunately we have lost 2 senior flags there and missed out on 2 years due to the pandemic. Fingers crossed for 2022.

The Academy: Just as important as footy, we also ensure that students’ academic needs are being met, providing them with a range of pathways and possibilities after graduating; can you tell us about your teaching experiences and if you have any philosophies that you feel shape your practice?

Mark: I am an educator because of my desire to develop students into respectful and educated members of society. I believe that I’m able to achieve this by building positive professional relationships with students stemming from honesty, respect and humour. It is my desire to create a safe and enjoyable learning environment where all students can grow physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. I believe that all students are unique and special in their own way. It is my job to allow all students to express themselves through their education and promote creativity in all situations of learning.

The Academy: 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?

Mark: I think incorporating the boy’s passion of football to the curriculum allows the boys to find relevance in the work they are completing. For example, rather than a boring budgeting task the boys were drafted to an AFL team and needed to find themselves a place to live in their chosen city, set up utilities, phone plans and come up with other expenses to see how much money they were spending and also how much they’d be able to save. This was a great way for the boys to start thinking about life after school and becoming more independent. 

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

Mark: The greatest achievement I’ve had would be seeing the boys slowly come out of their shells and developing into young men. Seeing their manors, levels of respect and independence continuously grow is a fresh reminder that the guidance we are offering has a positive effect on each of them.

The Academy: Can you share your thoughts around why you think The Academy is really important to have in the education space?

Mark: The Academy opens up doors for young boys who probably think all their doors have shut on them through mainstream schools. We are fortunate enough to work closely with each of them and develop different education techniques for their learning types. Unfortunately, in mainstream school’s students can get left behind due to the sheer number of kids and the lack of resources available. The Academy makes sure all students feel supported through all subjects and no one is left behind.

The Academy: Is there anything else you would like The Academy community to know about you?

Mark: I am extremely passionate about providing a safe and enjoyable education space for each of the boys. I pride myself on being approachable and someone that the boys look up to as a friend and mentor rather than their school teacher. I look forward to continuing my time with everyone at the Academy and all the future students to come.

To meet The Academy teaching team and learn more about The Academy experience, register for an upcoming event: theacademy.com.au/events/