Glenroy College assistant principal Lidia Tizian and science teacher David Woolcock are celebrating a teaching milestone of the most momentous kind – a collective 72 years of service to education.

The pair were recently honoured by the Education Department for their dedication to teaching with special certificates of recognition.

Mr Woolcock, 62, is part of Glenroy College’s crack science team. He has been instructing students about the skeletal system, atoms and chemical reactions all the way back to Glenroy High School days.

Ms Tizian also started out as a science teacher, but hands-on classroom teaching with test tubes and chemical compounds has taken a backseat in recent years as she drives the College’s engagement and wellbeing strategies and practises as part of the College’s principal team.

37 + 32 = awesome!

In his 37 years in the classroom, biology expert Mr Woolcock reckons he’s taught more than 3500 students about the scientific birds and the bees.

In the beginning, Glenroy was very much an Anglo-Saxon and Vietnamese school community. But over time, Mr Woolcock saw the neighbourhood change to embrace Greek and East European families, then Pacific Islander families and, now Lebanese and African families. Some of the current teachers at Glenroy College were even students back in Mr Woolcock’s classroom. Mr Woolcock says he hopes others have gone on to pursue careers in science in some way.

“You never find out what they do in the future, but I like to imagine some have,” he says. “There’s kids that have gone onto medicine and science-related fields.”

After so many years in the classroom, you could excuse Mr Woolcock for being a little jaded about his job. But he remains as passionate about teaching as the day he picked up his first piece of chalk. Chalkboards may have given way to interactive whiteboards, but Mr Woolcock says it’s the continual curiosity of students that keeps him going, even when there are lab mishaps, like the time a Year 8 class almost set fire to the school in a bunsen burner mishap.

“There was a metre-long flame shooting up the wall, so that was pretty scary,” he recalled.

Always be curious

The journey to Glenroy was a little different for Ms Tizian. She started teaching maths and science as a new graduate at Footscray Girls’ School, but left after a year to pursue a career in medical research. She worked on research projects for cancer and blood diseases until teaching eventually lured her back.

Ms Tizian said stepping back into the classroom after years in hospital research labs felt like a homecoming. She returned to teaching at Moomba Park High School, which became Box Forest Secondary College before eventually morphing into Glenroy College. It’s fair to say she has adopted Glenroy – with its spirited student cohort and their equally spirited families – as her own.

“I enjoy teaching. Even when I was a kid I always wanted to be a teacher and for me, I take a lot of satisfaction from teaching and helping other people,” she said.

“I really get a lot of joy out of seeing our kids move on into a successful career, whatever that career might be. For me, it’s about making sure the kids have got a good life.”

Teachers who make a difference

For Mr Woolcock, the classroom is still where it’s at. “Seeing kids that are asking questions, that are looking at things and starting to wonder, that’s probably the best bit,” he said.

He also welcomed moves to reintroduce physics to the VCE curriculum at Glenroy for 2023. “The more science, the better, ” he said.

“Wanting to help the kids, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t think there’s a better profession than teaching in terms of being able to actually make a difference to people and give them something.

“Everybody has a bad teacher story, but for every bad teacher story, there are 50 good teacher stories coming from teachers who love what they do.”

There’s no question Ms Tizian lives by that same rule. “One of the things I’ve always been pleased about from the very beginning is being a female role model for the other girls wanting to study sciences,” she said.

“I’m always mindful that we make sure we give our girls the opportunities they deserve, not just in the STEM area but everywhere in our school. The more you give students’ opportunities, the greater chance they have of being successful. Sometimes that success can come from something as simple as giving a kid the textbook they need or making sure they have breakfast.

“It sounds corny, but seeing them smile because they want to be here, and watching their confidence grow, so that they can actually see for themselves how they can succeed is the best measure of how we’re doing.”

assistant principal Lidia Tizian

If Mr Woolcock helps builds the brain matter at Glenroy, Ms Tizian helps build the College’s heart. “There’s something about Glenroy. You’ve got to understand our students. Yes, we have some challenging students but each kid here is genuinely a nice kid. I couldn’t see myself working anywhere else, put it that way,” she said.

Congratulations again to Ms Tizian and Mr Woolcock. Our students and College community are lucky to have you.

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