We weren’t at all surprised by the overwhelming response we had to our social media post encouraging OWs to let us know if they had a teacher, coach or mentor that mattered to them.

It can be hard to quantify why certain teachers made a difference in our lives. Some pushed us to work harder than we thought we could. Others gave us confidence, good advice or support in hard times. Some helped us stay out of trouble or gave us direction. What we remember now, sometimes decades later, more often goes beyond the subject matter and can have a profound impact on our lives.

Ian RojoThere was overwhelming appreciation for some teachers such as Phil De Young, Jackie Coker (Bond), Greg Wilms, David Graham and Ian ‘Doc’ Johnson, so famous for his caring demeanour, fun teaching style and his amazing collection of bow ties! Frank Colasurdo, the ‘Great Man’ who always went above and beyond, as well as the legendary Ian Rojo (who got more ‘likes’ than any others on our post!) Many simply commented ‘legend!’ Ian is pictured here with the 1995 Badminton team.

Fiona Samuel (OW2001) cited his care and compassion beyond the outstanding classroom teaching. Kelly McMaster (OW2001) said that Rojo was hands down ‘The Best’ when it came to support and encouragement. There were also a lot of ‘likes’ for Tim Box, who Jessica Morgan (OW2009) thanks for ‘...so many lightbulb moments in History and English – his calm demeanour and humour was so appreciated by his students. Mr Box, you were the teacher that showed me the power of having a growth mindset and helped me believe I was smart and capable. You are one of the reasons I went on to become a teacher!’

Many OWs attributed their current professions to the experience they had with certain teachers at school. Scott Dowsing (OW2007) wanted to thank Mark Frater as ‘he is the reason I am now a teacher.’ It was Richard Brenker’s IB Geography class that set Georgina Wright (OW1995) on her career path and for Jessica Green (OW2006) it was the kindness of Kate Lefel who ‘inspired my love of psychology and made sure I was taking care of myself by keeping my backpack for the night so I could have a rest without the pressure of study, prescribing some Greys Anatomy instead! As a psychologist, I am now teaching lots of clients the same message of selfcare.’

Catherine Osborne (OW1998) recalls what Lorraine Salter told her in Year 11 Chemistry: ‘Scientists need to have good imaginations because so much of what they study can’t easily be seen. I kept that gem with me during my career as a microbiologist!’

James Brown, Nick Evans, Richard Brenker, Sara Liversidge, Jill Calder and Marg Amble in the 1990s

James Brown (pictured in back row, left alongside Nick Evans, Richard Brenker, Sara Liversidge, Jill Calder and Marg Amble in the 1990s) has recently returned as the Head of Senior School at St Kilda Road. Cass Fuller (OW2007) had ‘Browny’ for Politics in 2006 and says, ‘Since my time at Wesley, James and I have never lost contact and I guess you could say his teaching role has gone above and beyond the norm. We have stayed in contact over the years, and he has coached and mentored me through my work in Asia, New York and now London. We share a mutual love for all things politics and sport, especially cricket and AFL, and while he is a diehard Hawthorn supporter and I am a Geelong fan through and through, that’s probably the only thing we ever disagreed on!'

Cass isn’t the only one. Josh Piterman (OW2003) lumps James Brown in with Nick Evans, Dawson Hann and Tony Scanlon, affectionately labelling them ‘The Big Four’. ‘I’m forever grateful for the lessons and guidance of these four men. It is a gift that three of them remain in my life physically, 20 years later. Tony’s spirit always lives on. Thanks gents and thanks Wesley.'

Sara Liversidge and Sabino Del Baso

Many who tread the boards of the Adamson Theatre Company (ATC) will agree, particularly in regards to the partnership of Tony Scanlon and Dawson Hann. But it was the speedy, quiet presence of Sabino Del Baso that was appreciated by so many. He was recently awarded an OWCA Honorary Life Membership and is pictured with Sara Liversidge, fellow OWCA Honorary Life Member, at the recent awards ceremony.

Tabitha Gillard (OW1995) maintains Sabino, ‘…completely changed my life. I was a shy, quiet, terrified of heights (and most things!) teenager and I joined his tech crew at the ATC in Year 8 way back in the 1990s. He brought me out of my shell and showed me I could do anything I put my mind to (even getting up ladders and scaffolding to set lights). Because of the things I learned from Sabino, I had the courage to move overseas on my own and I am now a Software Tester and can change a light bulb with my eyes shut! I'm still terrified of heights but don't let that stop me (I have even been to the top of the Eiffel Tower!)’

John Lee with the Big BandAnd who could forget the legend that was the big man, John Lee (pictured) and the amazingly supportive Marg Arnold who led the Big Band and the choir respectively. Whether it was on the stage, in a classroom, on the sports field or as a member of the pastoral care team, we are proud to share some of the many comments we received about our staff from across the decades.

Belinda Houston was the ultimate teacher, friend and mentor in my early days. I have such fond memories from being in her class. I’m still in touch with her to this day - she’s a true gem. And Chris Mannix had such an impactful way to teach Economics that made it easily consumable, which helped spark a real interest in the subject. He was a kind and highly relatable fella that I really enjoyed being around.’ - Matt Hoiles (OW2002)

‘There aren’t enough positive words to express how appreciative I am for having been able to learn from Nathan Armstrong (OW1998). He made learning so fun and something that we all wanted to do. He believed in all of us, and I’ll never forget how much magic he brought to our English classes. Kids who had spare periods during our English class would sometimes come to our English class to learn from him. Gamut group forever!’ - Stella Silagy (OW2012)

James Brown, Ian 'Doc' Johnson and Jill CapleJames Brown was such a positive and caring mentor and friend and I was thrilled to be given the chance to give these special people a shout out. I love that you are doing this, and I wanted to send you my list of teachers I still talk about regularly because of their positive influence on my life more than 30 years ago.’ Kristy was lucky to be coached by Janine Bates, saying, ‘I always looked up to her, she’s a legend: and her waterpolo and coaching skills were amazing. There was also Lindy Grahn: because of her I studied engineering. A great start to a career I am proud of. Dr. Johnson (pictured, in middle, with James Brown, Jill Caple and Senior Prefects in 2001) was able to make chemistry make sense, to this day! Marg Molina brought a new level to netball at Wesley. I’m still talking about how Sharelle McMahon (OW1995) pushed me out of GA into C (where I’m still playing!) I always think of Mr (Andrew) Hobbs when I hear Blister in the Sun! Phil Pinnell was our Head of Middle School which is a tough job – he did it really well. He ran a tight ship but was also kind. And Alastair Clarkson: there’s a reason he’s such a good AFL coach! Probably the same reasons I loved having him as a PE teacher.’ - Kristy Old (McIntyre) (OW1994)

Peter Rees is a standout. He really did introduce positivity as a concept. Let’s not forget the poetry! I still know My Country by Dorothea Mackellar by heart.’ - Rosheen Nikakis (OW1993)

'Nigel Starr for his humour and acceptance.' - Graeme Stol (OW2009)

Garry Dodd, James Brown, Hon. Peter Costello'I went on to study teaching due to the influence of teachers like our Principal Nick Evans (OW1985), a man who inspired my love of History and with whom I had the privilege to share a classroom, as we team-taught the IB History course in my tenure on the teaching staff at the College. But there were other legends that inspired me; Lindy Grahn for the way she cared, Garry Dodd (OW1973) for his humour that kept us so engaged, Jill Caple for her tolerance(!) and guidance, Janine Bates for her support and legendary coaching skills and Sara Liversidge for the passion for teaching that she showed then and continues to show now.’ - Lucy Gilfillan (Rodgers-Wilson) (OW1995)

Garry Dodd is pictured with James Brown and the Hon. Peter Costello and students in 2004.

Peter Foley inspired me in so many ways as a teacher, band director, musician and mentor from teaching me trombone as the only female trombonist in the year level in Grade 6 up to making it into the Mt Gambier Generations in Jazz Division 1 Superband in Year 10. In bands with Mr Foley, the ‘groove’ was everything and nothing was unachievable if we all helped each other. I really had the time of my life learning from the ground up in those sessions. Now as a 27-year-old, I work with some other professional musicians and Peter Foley’s name comes up in circles around town and I’ve heard only the most wonderful things spoken of him. Who knows if I would have moved to Nashville and pursued my career as a musician if not for my foundations under the wing of Mr Foley. Regardless, I feel very privileged that I got to witness his mastery during my time at Wesley.’ - Jazzy Bade-Boon (OW2013)

Sal PaasSal Paas inspired a love of Geography! I’m still eager to learn about places when I visit them. I love travel and nature and it all started with Ms Paas.’ - Jessica Green (OW2006)

‘I loved Geography with Sal Paas. Her enthusiasm and humour helped me settle into Senior School when I was struggling. I always looked forward to her classes and definitely look back on those lessons very fondly. Thank you Ms Pass!’ - Megan Mallet (OW2002)

Ian Mills was my Grade 7 teacher who provided more support, warmth and guidance than he ever probably realised. Youth and young adulthood can be so difficult to navigate, and Millsy made this easier for all of us. Kim Barlow (Koot) was my Year 12 Psychology teacher, who made psychology cool. She broke down all the stigma that counselling and psychology used to attract, and was pivotal in my decision to enter, and ongoing love for the profession of psychology. I am so indebted to these amazing people.’ - Meera Aurora (OW1994)

Ian Mills helped a generation of Wesley students calculate their Stableford Score!’ - Lachlan Fooks (OW2001)

‘I never picked up much as an accounting student, but Peter Burke’s ‘more than the minimum’ catchphrase has been in my head for nearly 30 years.’ - Greg Bruce (OW1995)

Ian Mills was legend of a guy who had the patience of a saint in teaching maths to those who had zero interest. Peter Rees introduced the concept of positivity to me in Grade 6 and David Knight – everyone loved Knighty!’ - Larissa Dudley (OW1993)

Phil de YoungLex Hibbins (OW1953) and Phil De Young (pictured). Great teachers and mentors.' - Adam Mayhood (OW1990)

Dawson Hann (bleed for Frederick!!), Phil De Young and his ALP tie and Roger Hawthorn all had a tremendous influence on me.’ - Mark Jenkins (OW1980)

‘My unequivocal vote is for Greg Wilms. He made me love accounting which no body else has ever managed to do!' - Meredith Cairns (OW1993)

'Greg Wilms challenged and encouraged me when I most needed it. I would not be where I am today without his teaching.’ - Nick Smith (OW2010)

Mark, Sam and Lex Hibbins

'There were quite a few but the ones who stood out most were Colin Shnier, Bill Lyon, Stuart Holloway and Greg Falk.’ - Jason Conway (OW2007)

Daryl Forde, for me, was an inspiring teacher. Still a friend now, forty years on.’ - Brett Halliwell (OW1982)

'Lex Hibbins (OW1953) [pictured with son Mark (OW1978) and grandson Sam (OW2011)] and Phil De Young. Great teachers and mentors.' - Adam Mayhood (OW1990)

Mr [Dawson] Hann, both as an English teacher and most importantly, through drama and the opportunities in the musicals. One in a million!’ - Claudine Collins (OW1994)

‘I had Charmaine Schaefer for IB English. She had a calm and caring demeanour and genuinely always wanted the best for her students.’ - Anastasia Cossey (Sidorova) (OW2012)

'Val Crees was amazing. She chased me down at musical rehearsals to get my accounting assignment right!' - Mietta Gibson (Wieland) (OW1995)

Garry Dodd with Legal Studies students at the 2002 Business Breakfast‘There are so many! In no particular order, Dawson (a one name legend), Garry Dodd (Economics) [pictured with Legal Studies students in 2002], Phil De Young (Politics and leadership), three great rowing coaches in Peter Shakespeare, Doug Goodwin and Andrew Keneally. There was also Ana Hicks, Adele Flood, David Shepherd, Robert Renton and Lisa Hasker at Elsternwick who oversaw an amazingly nice culture. And David Prest, who on my first day at Elsternwick came up and said, ‘Welcome Scott. If the school suits you as much as that blazer does, you’ll do well.’ To which I thought, ‘Wow, that’s so nice!’ and simultaneously, ‘Oh no, first day and I’m already on the Principal’s radar!’ - Scott Hudson (OW1993)

‘I’ll never forget how supportive Stuart Holloway and Anthony Zapris were during a very tough period.’ - Danielle Heyes (Elmer) (OW2009)

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