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Aleksandr Taylor-Gough - Department of Education and Training

Aleksandr Taylor-Gough, wife Brooke and son Oliver attending Oliver’s first concert – The Wiggles Live in Toowoomba!

Since graduation in 2003, Aleksandr Taylor-Gouch ​has working in a number of different positions within the Education sector, including: Teacher, Acting Principal, Principal, Acting Research Officer for Queensland Teachers Union and now a Principal Advisor - Capability and Capacity for the QLD Education Department. We caught up with Aleksandr to see what else he has been up to since graduating...

What have you done since graduating? 

Professionally 
Since graduation, I have been able to follow a career path within teaching /education.  I studied a Bachelor of Education (Primary) with Health and Physical Education Specialisation at Griffith University, Mt Gravatt Campus from 2004 – 2007.  At the same time, I garnered ‘teaching’ experience by forming my own Tutoring Business which allowed me to work with a range of students from a range of backgrounds. 
 
Having graduated from university in late 2007, I was offered a few teaching positions to commence the following year.  However, nothing stood out and grabbed me like the job offer I received from Goondiwindi State High School teaching Maths and Science.  
 
I had many opportunities to spread my wings further whilst there, and experienced teaching a range of subject areas to students of all year levels from 8 – 12.  Working with students and staff in Goondiwindi was a highlight of my career and I learnt a lot about myself in the process. 
 
In late 2010, I received a job offer as Acting Principal at Talwood State School for the following year, a small school with about 40 students 95 km west of Goondiwindi.  This was an amazing learning opportunity for me as I had yet to put any of my ‘primary education’ degree knowledge to work. In my first year I taught 5 year levels in my classroom and learnt a lot about myself, curriculum, pedagogy, learning and the number one element – working with the community.  I ended up winning the principal position and stayed at Talwood for 4 years.  
 
During that time I had the opportunity to work for the Queensland Teachers’ Union of Employees as their Acting Research Officer, which provided me another great experience within education.  From there, I was appointed Principal at Drayton State School in Toowoomba with about 325 students, leading a team of up to 50 staff and again, a great community.   
 
During mid-2017, I was offered the chance to work for the Department of Education and Training in Toowoomba as Principal Advisor – Capability and Capacity, working alongside teachers, Principals and leaders within the Department to further strengthen capability and capacity in employees.  It is a completely different role but I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. 
 
Personal
Amongst all my work within education, in 2014 I got married and my son was born in 2016.
 
I've travelled a lot in my life and although  my wife and I haven't travelled overseas in the past 2 years, we'll be taking our son on his first international trip later this year.  
 
I have had some fantastic opportunities and have been culturally enriched in many corners of the globe.  My wife and I have travelled significantly and only need to visit South America and Antarctica to say we’ve visited all 7 continents.  I love visiting Europe and Africa is an amazing continent. Playing cricket with the locals in India was also something else.  I didn’t realise how poor of a batsman I was until Indian kids started bowling cricket balls to me… 
 
Also, our household is often overflowing with joy, laughter and learning as we regularly host students from other countries studying English in Toowoomba at the University of Southern Queensland.  Culture is what it’s all about – learning and growing from others and I have been fortunate to have visited classrooms overseas, and I even picked up the chalk and taught in Livingstone, Zambia!  However, my passion for travel is certainly my hobby and my goal is to keep learning from those in other cultures and other countries.

What do you do for a living now?

Currently, I am working for the Department of Education and Training as Principal Advisor – Capability and Capacity.  This role allows me to work with schools, Principals and the Department to further build capability and capacity in its workforce which in turn increases student outcomes.  Substantively, I am Principal of Drayton State School in the Toowoomba area.

Do you think your time at Holland Park helped you to pursue this?

Absolutely!  I always had a passion to follow some of the great leaders of Holland Park SHS to be a leader within the education field at some point.  I learnt so much from my Principal Jocelyn Roberts, Deputy Principal Lynne Drillis and many others which laid the foundation for my leadership.  The sheer fact that each teacher I had cared about me, my learning and my wellbeing – and that is the foundation by which I am to care about my students and others I work with.  

Do you still live locally?

I live in Toowoomba.  Close enough compared to where I have lived previously  at Talwood and Goondiwindi, 5 ½ and 4 ½ hours away respectively.

Did you enjoy your time at Holland Park SHS?

I had a great time.  On reflection, the relationships that are able to be formed amongst a smaller student and staff body helped me dramatically.  Holland Park SHS was for me, the right size school.  I had the chance to do some amazing things, and meet some amazing people.   From my time as School Captain, to the Ski Trip (which instilled my love of travelling), to visiting the Goodwill Games right down to to visiting my Primary School as nervous Year 8 student talking about ‘high school, I was able to learn how to be a responsible community member whilst focussing on the most important aspect of school – learning and growing as a responsible citizen within the community. 

Who was your favourite teacher?

Good question!  I don’t think I can say I have a ‘favourite’ teacher, as that would be undermining all my teachers.  However, those who had the mental fortitude to put up with me in my senior years deserve a badge – Kerry Mitchell, Craig Dawson, Pat O’Reilly, Margot Duncan and the late Mark Neale.  But I will add that my Year 8 English teacher, Dudley Darlington also taught my mother and aunty 25 years earlier when Holland Park SHS was a new school opening for the very first time! 

What was your most memorable moment as a student?

I think being named School Captain is something that is hard to forget.  However, in Year 9, I got to do something that I will never forget, and that was being one of only 2 students nominated by Holland Park SHS to be an Escort Runner in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Torch Relay.  Running with the Olympic Flame, being in the small white Torch Relay bus and looking at the photos and the blue uniform that I still have are memories that dreams are made of.  I owe a words-can-not-imagine thank-you to my teachers and the school for nominating me as their representative.  What an experience.

Any final parting words? 

I suppose the final point I would add is the reason behind Holland Park SHS being such a great school, is the fact it was (still would be) staffed by amazing people.  I could not even begin to describe how each staff member, in their own ways, gave 110% to their job.  From extra support, to extra-curricular – staff were and frankly, are the difference that sets this school apart.  Talking about difference; Difference was tolerated, but respect was insisted.  The opportunities I had were truly endless.  For the school to see something in me, a shy, timid Year 8 student – and help to grow me into a confident member of the community, it goes to the character and culture of all who call Holland Park home. 
 
I liken my time at Holland Park to the seed analogy.  If each child is a seedling, and the school is the soil, the staff are the water, the opportunities are the fertiliser and the community is the sunshine –there is every chance every student will learn, grow and discover more about who they are and what they can contribute to their community. 
 
I come back to the notion and the importance of the ‘journey’ rather than simply the destination.  And that probably is what sums up Holland Park SHS – a school embedded within community that encourages responsible citizenship in students now, and in the many journeys these students will create and embark on long into the future.