Mr Stephen Vine

Life before Girton
I was born in Murrayville; we moved to Melbourne not long after I was born. We moved to Bendigo when I was five, and my parents built a home in Mandurang. I was a bit of a Primary School nomad, following my mum Pam to Epsom Primary for Prep to Year 2 and Strathfieldsaye Primary for Year 3. I moved to Mandurang Primary School for Years 4 – 6. I followed dad across town to Eaglehawk High-Technical School, as he was a teacher there. HSC at Bendigo Senior and then Melbourne for University. My life outside of school was very much that of a country boy, mixed with piano and trombone lessons, lots of music, plenty of tennis and lots of bike riding.

I studied Music and Education at the University of Melbourne. After completing my degree, I auditioned for two trombone playing positions, one with the Australian Army Band of Melbourne (AABM) and the other with The Royal Australian Air force Band of Melbourne (RAAF). I initially did my military testing with the plan to join the RAAF Band, then did all the same tests again for the Army. The Army offered me a basic training place first, so I wore green, not blue.

In 1998 Jacqui and I had our oldest son (Tristan) and decided that music across two professional schedules would not work with a baby. Jacqui worked for the RAAF Band, so we decided to change course and head North to Bendigo. We moved to Bendigo in 1999, and I started teaching with the Bendigo Instrumental Music Program, working there for eight years and coordinating the program for six of those years. As our youngest was finishing kinder and about to start school, I decided to take a term off and be a kinder dad. While on long service leave, I was approached to apply for a classroom music position at Girton, which quickly became an application for the Head of Music role. Almost sixteen years later, I am still enjoying working at one of the finest Performing Arts schools in regional Victoria.

What I love about teaching at Girton?
Every day is about working with outstanding colleagues and students in a school culture that passionately supports the arts.

What two things do you love most about teaching?
The first is watching young people find a passion or a special activity in their lives. The moment that occurs, something changes in a person, and they begin to focus and apply themselves differently. Music is one of the many ways this occurs, and I enjoy participating in that experience with students. I love sport, the outdoors, science, theatre, visual arts, language, history, and literature. All of these areas of life have the same potential, so I love that it often doesn’t matter what healthy pursuit a young person discovers; once they have latched onto that “thing”, they start to blossom.

The second love is working with a great team. I love working with the Music and Performing Arts teams at Girton. We do activities that take large amounts of collective effort, which are a little risky due to being high-profile and complex. The pleasure is being part of teams that make this happen for our school and creating amazing experiences for our students and community.

Why is Girton a great place to teach?
It is the mix of students, parents, staff and the school culture. Combining these elements and the cultural appreciation of the Performing Arts at Girton make it a wonderful place to teach.

What difference can good teaching make?
Having an interested, caring, motivated and supportive teacher creates an environment where students can excel. It is more than knowledge, enthusiasm, and experience. Good teaching is about good relationships. Students know when staff support each other and when staff feel supported in a school culture. Staff who bring that energy of supported confidence into their teaching do so with enthusiasm and are more engaging and dynamic. That sets the groundwork for a school environment where students are challenged, engaged, enthused, and connected with their teachers.

What two attributes help to make an excellent teacher?
Excellent teachers can engage people and build relationships. Students need someone to connect with, and once that connection is made, the learning process can begin.

Excellent teachers need to understand how people function. There seem to be more people in the world who lack empathy and are unaware of how others feel. I think having the capacity to walk in students, parents or colleagues’ shoes shapes how we act and shapes our relationships.