Beginning his teaching career in 2001, it was not until 14 years later that Humanities and Social Sciences teacher, Mr Mark Butler joined the Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School Community, or as he puts it ‘swapped sides’. “Having grown up and spending the majority of my preliminary teaching years in the State system, it was a pretty big step to move,” said Mr Butler. He reflects on the many highlights of his time at our School.
Teaching to me, as much as there are some individual successes, is all about the team. Departments are only successful if they can share, grow and help each other as well as their students. Being a part of the team at our School is from Kindergarten up – as we all play a part in where many of our students are going to. The team is what I enjoy about teaching and the sense of community at Bunbury Grammar is generally a strong bond. Although things can be missed day-to-day, when there is need, the school and staff rally to support and lift those people up.
I have worked with inspirational teachers (educators) throughout my journey to date. Many inspired me to be a better person and teacher each day. I also hope that I have helped other teachers along the way, whether they be new to teaching or experienced teachers who have gone on to bigger things.
A lot of people when thinking of history joke that it is about people who have passed and things that no longer matter – and although yes, there are a lot of dead people that we look at, the living still play a key role. I have had the good fortune to be able to take students to meet some key decision makers of our own history, such as former prime ministers Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating and Julia Gillard. All of which spent time with students that many would not do. They saw the future and although the time spent was fleeting, it often made its mark on those students.
I was fortunate enough to win a place as a teacher chaperone along with 32 students (including one Bunbury Grammar Student) and six other staff to Turkey for the centenary of the Gallipoli landing in 2015. It was my first year at the School and it sort of showed me how some Bunbury Grammar students are different. When many discussed their own families and histories as part of their essay to get on the tour, one student discussed those that many forgot as key participants, our First Nations’ people, who despite not being citizens, stood up and fought.
I have seen many students attend Mock Trials and Evatt Trophy competitions and succeed in facing one of their biggest fears – speaking in public. Seeing the buzz the students get from their participation and the reward for their efforts is worth the sleepless nights leading up to it (and there are my sleepless nights!).
Teaching has given me the opportunity to spend three weeks in Israel in 2017, learning from the experts at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in Holocaust education. To visit a place with such history, both constructive and destructive, was phenomenal. As old as the civilisation in Jerusalem is, to meet with Holocaust survivors and hear their stories of luck, skill, deception, bravery, fortitude, resilience, determination, humour and love – as well as love lost and still yearned for was as heartbreaking as it was inspiring – or maybe somewhat depressive as their humanity (that of the survivors) always towered over me as a person who could never live up to the grace and heart that they have demonstrated to endure such loss and live with such purpose.
I have enjoyed Country Week and I have had some success in this field over the years. One team I coached (well, they let me think I coached them) was able to not only win A Grade Country Week Soccer, but also the State Schoolboy Championship in 2009 (the only non-Metro team to do this). As I said above, it was teamwork that enabled this to happen.
To each day be able to watch and be a part of the journey of young men and women achieve success, no matter how big or small, will always be humbling. It is something special and it will always be a privilege I appreciate.