Joanne Zacharopoulos – 20 Years of Service to Oakleigh Grammar

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Dear fellow staff and students,

It is an honour for me to stand here and be recognised for 20 years of service at this wonderful school.

I would like thank my learning enhancement staff, fellow teachers, the senior leadership team and coordinators, administration and the students who have made my life here interesting and enjoyable, and have always been supportive of me and of the work that we do. I would also like to thank our Principal Mark Robertson, and past Principals for their leadership and support during these 20 years. Furthermore, I would also like to thank the teachers and the school who educated and supported my two sons once upon a time.

Wow 20 years of service! After teaching in a few schools overseas and here, I started here in 1998 as a middle and senior years teacher and a coordinator for additional needs, and I worked with an amazing and talented team of teachers. In 2006 I was appointed as the Head of Learning Enhancement, which then and now entails additional needs and gifted and talented education. It was a dedicated staff of five, and is now a dedicated staff of 22 and still growing.

This just illustrates how much the school has grown, not only in number, but also in the range of programs and support the school provides, and it is great to be a part of this growth and continued diversity. One of the pleasures of the job is to see young wide eyed students grow into fine young adults, and learning about the varied career paths that they have taken and the adventures they are experiencing.

Personally, I am grateful for the ongoing learning opportunities that I have been involved in, in programs such as Reading Recovery, Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment and the Arrowsmith Program.

So my advice is to use every opportunity and to do the best of your ability. Make your opportunities as well, and particularly so for our Year 12s who are about to start their examinations, and then embark on their next stage in life.

I wish to share with you some thoughts about our profession. I think us teachers and the support teaching staff have an awesome job as we get to educate students and help them to understand the world we live in, we inspire our students to strive for greatness, we as teachers are constantly learning as we are passionate about learning, and we affect positive change in the lives of our students and in the face of education.

So allow me to close with two quotes. Firstly from the great Nelson Mandela, a South African political leader: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

And secondly from John Dewey, an American philosopher and educator: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

Thank you again for this honour and the opportunity to share my thoughts and memories, and I wish you all every success.


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