Ms Lynette McGivern is the Head of Senior School at Wesley College. Volunteering and service for others is entrenched in Lynette’s teaching philosophy, shaping the leadership capabilities of countless students through her time at the College.
What is the most thoughtful gift that you’ve ever received?
I started ‘warm-and-fuzzies’ with the Year 12 prefect group last year, whereby I got each prefect to write a thoughtful message on post-it notes to each other. At the end of the year, they gave me an envelope with ‘warm-and-fuzzies’ or letters that they’d secretly written me. You know me Lachie, I’m pretty unemotional about those kind of things, but when I realised what they were doing I had to put them away because I was going to cry. In terms of being thoughtful that was pretty special.
Did you always want to be a teacher?
I wanted to study history after school, but my Dad wasn’t overly keen. He said “what does a historian do when they graduate?”. I started first-year accounting, but I worked out very quickly that there wasn’t enough people interaction. No offense to accountants but it was just a little bit boring. Working with people is a big one for me. I completed a B.A. in History and a Diploma in Education.
Why is volunteering important? Which service activity which has had the greatest impact on at Wesley.
After the Boxing Day Tsunami hit in 2004, I was part of a small group from Wesley who partnered-up with a small school in Sri Lanka. We visited one of the refugee camps that had been set-up near Galle, and one family invited me into their tent, and started sharing tea and food with me. I’ve never been so overwhelmed with feelings of empathy and compassion, and anytime I see those tents now I feel it. Amongst other donations, I always take a bag full of Australian-themed gifts to each country we visit and the Caramelo Koalas – although slightly melted – were definitely a hit. We also went back to the van and donated everything we could to the people in the camp.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a teacher.
I’m a big believer that any form of work is just as important as a formal education. You can learn skills from any part-time job. I was a waitress and telemarketer while at university. I was so clumsy that I got relegated to the kitchen after spilling a margarita over a customer. I worked at the refund counter at Target which was the- best- training- in dealing with people.
I started at Wesley as a Politics & Law teacher in 2004, and a few years later started studying Law at Notre Dame part-time. I left Wesley for a while and completed my articles with a commercial litigation firm. I was admitted in 2011.
What are your favourite teaching memories?
1. I remember walking into my Year 11 Politics & Law class one year and receiving a rendition of Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’. I was running late, and they were all waiting for me. I’ll never forget the moment that Bernard, who was sitting right in front of me, turned around to the rest of the class and said “Fellas, you know what she needs. She needs a little bit of Taylor Swift Love Story”.
2. The 2019 Year 12 Politics & Law class were pretty special, and I had such awesome conversations with them last year. It’s amazing how switched-on, empathetic, and inquisitive they were about real-life issues. I loved it. Young people sometimes get written off, but I think they just want to be liked, and need time to find their way. I also really loved working within the Wesley Rowing program, and I’ve stayed in contact with all the coaches from when I first started at Wesley.
Outside the College, what are your favourite things to do?
I have a large family, and we love going to Wadjemup (Rottnest Island) for family holidays. Before COVID-19, I’d planned to travel to France with my family to spend Easter with my best friend, so I was devastated that we couldn’t do that. I also love to volunteer. It’s pretty selfish of me but I love to listen to other people’s stories. I really like being part of something bigger than myself.
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