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?
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
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.
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
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
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.