Ms Sharon Ryan


Sharon RYANLife before Girton

I completed my VCE at Catholic College, Bendigo, in 1987.  After this, I completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in 1990, with a major in Chemistry and sub-majors in Mathematics and Physics, and a Graduate Diploma in Education (secondary) in 1991, both from La Trobe University, Bendigo.  After this I commenced employment at Catholic College Bendigo in 1992, teaching Chemistry and Mathematics.  From there, I moved to St. Joseph’s, Echuca, in 1996.  Here, I developed my teaching experience and held various positions of leadership.

What I Love about Teaching

The two things I love most about teaching are: that it gives me the opportunity to share my passion for learning about mathematics and the physical sciences in general, and for chemistry in particular; and that I have the opportunity to build strong relationships with young people and use this relationship to inspire them to achieve their best, academically and personally.  The best thing about teaching at Girton is the students – they ARE the school, and in my work I always try to put their interests first. I am privileged to work with some of brightest young minds in the Bendigo area, and seeing them develop their potential under my guidance is quite a thrill.

What do you like best about the subject/s you teach?

Students should choose my subjects for a variety of reasons. As far as chemistry is concerned, students should select this subject as an important pre-requisite subject for many university courses, most notably the health science courses, which attract a large number of applicants each year.  Students need a solid understanding of chemistry for the further study of the physical world, because it deals with the very foundations of the way the world operates.  For mathematics, the focus is more on equipping students with the skills to at least perform functional mathematical tasks in everyday living, but at a higher level the study of mathematics has broader applications in abstract thinking, and as an advanced tool for the study of the science.

My favourite classroom activity

My favourite classroom activity is definitely chemistry practical.  While there is a high level of conceptual content in teaching chemistry (and in science generally), the best experience students can have is seeing how those concepts play out in a real situation.  This allows students not only to enjoy the immediate thrill of “experimenting”, looking and learning as they go, but it allows them to lock together both the theoretical learning and personal observation, all while sharing the experience with fellow students and developing their teamwork and organisational skills. PLUS, we get to put on the white coats and cool safety gear!!

What difference can good teaching make?

In my experience, a successful student is one who is not necessarily academically gifted (although that certainly helps).  The best students are those who are ready and willing to listen and learn, who are focussed and organised, and who have a clear reason for doing the subject, whatever that might be.  Good students are naturally inquisitive, and want to take their learning a step beyond what is expected of them.  The personal attributes I hope students see in me are: a deep love of the subject material, the willingness to invest my time and full effort into the task at hand, and strong self-discipline and organisation.

Other Hats

I am involved with one of Girton’s Junior School Netball Teams throughout the winter season. This is because my daughter plays in the team, and I want to support her while sharing my netball skills and experience with the junior students.  I have a long history of playing and coaching netball, and I am passionate about this sport.

Outside of work, I am passionate about physical fitness – I regularly run, swim, go to gym, cycle, and play competition tennis and squash.  I have run two half-marathons and plan to run the full Melbourne Marathon later this year.  I am also a full-blown Italophile – a lover of all things Italian. I have Italian parentage, I can speak fluent Italian, and I have recently made two trips to Italy to explore the cultural and artistic heritage of that wonderful country. I love Italian art, food, music, the language and the people, and even Italian scientists!