Meet our Head of Middle School, Brad Hilliard. Brad was previously at Wesley between 1998 and 2008, working in the Middle School and as a Gifted and Talented Specialist, before taking up the position as Director of Studies (Deputy Head) at Christ Church Grammar School. Returning to Wesley in 2018, Brad is launching himself into his new role as Head of Middle School and as a member of the College Executive. We asked Brad to share a bit of his background with us.
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for well over 20 years and got a taste for it when I was a teenager doing sport. Often I would arrive early to my sports sessions and warm up when the younger children were training. After a period of time I started to help and before I knew it I became a regular assistant teacher. By the time I got to the end of Year 12, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher.
I have taught in a number of different school environments including an independent Aboriginal school and in the public sector. Following this, I worked in the private sector as a foundation teacher at Geraldton Grammar, then at Wesley College for ten years followed by ten years at Christ Church Grammar School.
When I was at Wesley I spent most of my time teaching in the Middle School, working with students across different year groups as well as working in the Wyvern Centre as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Being back at Wesley is like coming home, I couldn’t be happier!
Tell us about your career highlights, prior to joining Wesley.
I have many fond memories of my time teaching at every school that I have worked at and each environment has helped to shape the educator I am today.
There are so many highlights but if I have to choose only one it would be working with a Year 6 to 7 extension class when I was first at Wesley College, and then having those students in a Year 7 extension class the following year. Having motivated learners who I had developed strong connections with made for an exciting and challenging learning environment. Not only did I know the students well, I felt I had very positive relationships with the parents.
I often come back to this idea of relationships as a key ingredient to great teaching. I believe every good teacher who has a strong connection, as well as a positive relationship, can challenge the learner to achieve their potential. It’s an absolute thrill to see students thrive and to be a part of their learning.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
When I think of inspiration I often think back to my favourite teacher, Mr Higham. I did the last year of primary school and first year of secondary school at St Kevin’s in Toorak, Melbourne. Mr Higham was a passionate teacher who had great relationships with all of the students in the class, and he taught me over both years – I felt that I had won the Lotto as he was a massive influence in my life.
As an educator, I like to think that I am passionate about positive relationships just like Mr Higham and I look back with very fond memories of my time under his expert tutelage.
Why did you choose to join Wesley?
When I first taught in the Middle School I was so proud to tell people that I worked at Wesley College, and now that I am back working here I have that pride again. Working in an environment where the structure aligns with adolescence is really important to me. Having teachers make strong connections in an environment designed for students’ needs is a recipe for success, which leads to greater preparation not only for the senior years but more importantly for the real world after school.
I have such a genuine fondness for Wesley and feel honoured to be working as the Head of Middle School alongside a wonderful group of dedicated, passionate and committed teachers and support staff.
Outside of school life, what are your favourite things to do?
The most important thing in my life is my family. I have a wonderfully supportive wife, who is also a passionate educator, and we are proud parents of Nick (10) and Katie (13). Having my own children really changed my perspective on parenting and made me more aware of the pressures of busy parents. I also try and live a healthy life and like hitting the hills on a road bike – although you won’t see me out when it rains.
During the holidays I love to read a good book and enjoy travelling with the family. If I had to choose somewhere to go on holiday it would definitely involve snow. I absolutely love skiing and would head back to Hokkaido, Japan at the drop of a hat if I could. Maybe that could be a Middle School event in the future?
Also, having spent a good part of my life living in Melbourne I love my AFL. People that know me well will tell you that I love most sports, but I am a passionate West Coast Eagles supporter. I can’t wait to see the first West Coast game at the new stadium!