Meet an Old Collegian – Tom Cashin (2008)
I am currently teaching in the Physical Education and Outdoor Education Department at St Joseph’s College, Geelong. I have been living in Geelong since 2014 and love the close proximity and easy access to both the surf coast and Melbourne.
When I look back on my time at Ballarat Clarendon College, I only am filled with positive memories and experiences. I think my father was the one who instilled my hard working mentality, but it was Clarendon that tested it. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity – through the sacrifices of my family, working countless hours’ overtime, and my ability to kick a football – to attend Clarendon from Year 10. I remember in the first week being confronted with hours of homework – what I believed was a myth growing up in Ararat. One night, after putting in a solid two hours’ worth of study and hardly breaking the surface of what was required for me to catch up to the level of others in my class, my father, Ambrose, called me. I broke down and told him my situation. His response was ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ Already frustrated, I responded quite rudely and bluntly. He then explained that I shouldn’t look at the big picture, but to look at the start and not worry about the finish. Trust yourself and trust the process. I truly believe that I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my time at Clarendon. In particular, the influence of staff, other students in the boarding house and the lessons I learnt, not just in a classroom, have shaped me into being the person I am today.
Football was another huge reason why I loved my time at school. I still feel very privileged to say that I was the 2008 first football captain and was able to play from Years 10 through to Year 12 winning three Herald-Sun Shields and to be the only Year 10 to play in the BAS 2006 grand final win over St Pat’s. Furthermore, Clarendon gave me the opportunity, without question or comment (just shows what a fantastic and accepting place it truly is), to excel in Drama. I loved that I didn’t really have a ‘group’ label. I was a nomad that could drift from the ‘boarders’ to the ‘PACies’ and then straight to football training. I could be whoever I wanted to be.
When I think of how my school helped me with where I am today, I think of how dedicated the staff were, and I have no doubt still are, with their students. My teachers went above and beyond to make sure that I was on task and the boarding house staff made sure that the school was my home. In short, the staff made sure that I was getting the best out of myself in the best environment possible. I was lucky enough to have Kirsty ‘Romsey’ Walsh as my Year 12 Physical Education teacher; I mimic her teaching style in every lesson I teach. She knew her content inside and out. She knew when to push the class to focus and knew when it was time to have a laugh. I recall her patrolling the room – up and down – preaching her knowledge to us. And this is something I try to reflect in my own teaching, refusing to sit behind a desk. I also had Sally Yates as my English teacher in Year 12. I have never met anyone so passionate about her discipline and her teaching. Her energy and drive led me to study English as my second method and provided a clear example of how to motivate students to connect with content through their love of their profession. Something that I endeavour to reflect to my students today.
If I were to pass on any advice for a new student walking through the gates of Ballarat Clarendon College for their very first time, I would say have a go at it all and trust the teachers around you, but always have in the back of your mind ‘how do you eat an elephant?’