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‘Old Gold’ Graduate Story: Olivia Bordignon (2011)

Olivia Bordignon (2011) after graduating from Nazareth, completed a Bachelor of Education at UniSA for Primary and Middle School. She is now working as a Year 6 Teacher at the Findon Campus and is also the R-6 Leader of Teacher and Learning Innovation.

“I was set on teaching receptions and the younger years, but as soon as I started relief teaching, I found my place with the upper primary years. I just love teaching the Year 5 and 6 students, and I have been doing that most of my time at Nazareth”.

Olivia shares it is her ninth year working at Nazareth and that she was the first cohort of students that started at the school. “I was actually on the Findon Campus for one year while Flinders Park was being developed and my current Year 6 classroom is the old Siena Building”.

“We arrived on the first day and there was a handful of us in our mustard uniforms amongst these seas of Siena girls in green. I just got to see how the school developed over time. We were at Findon for one year and then moved to Flinders Park.”

She continues “The Flinders Park Campus was directly across the road from my family’s house. I loved it, and I had beautiful teachers”.

Olivia shares how she started at Nazareth as a staff member after completing her degree. “When I finished my degree, I did a bit of relief work at St Micheal’s as I did my final placement at the primary school. But my Mum had a connection with a Nazareth teacher after she mentioned that I had finished my degree. They said to put my paperwork into Nazareth and that they would put in a good word for me. Two days later I put my paperwork in, and I got a call to start doing some relief work, and I have been here ever since”.

A day in the life of Olivia’s roles always varies, but she says “I’m loving teaching Year 6 this year; our days are full of fun and laughter”.

“The way we are learning at the moment is just amazing; the kids are just up and out of their seats, and they are doing some incredible tasks. Mixed in with yard duties and meetings”.

She continues “I work with Mr Arbon, and we take on all the literacy and design thinking units, so we get cracking straight away on that. We make sure we include lots of breaks throughout the day to ensure the kids can have a break”.

Olivia explains what she has been working on in her Teacher and Learning Innovation role: “I take on podcasting and STEM, and I support SEQTA as well, so twice a year, we do podcasting with Arch Radio Podcasting. Our first group of students finished their first podcast last term and are live on Spotify. I also run a STEM Club which will run later in the year”.

She continues, “Last year when we ran STEM Club, we worked with a group of students to put them through that STEM Mad Competition that they won. From that learning experience, I have taken that and I’m running it for the whole Year 6 Unit, and I will be sharing their ideas with the STEM Mad Competition, as we took it out last year and ended up winning the Nationals in Melbourne, it was huge”.

“I’m trying to get more STEM-based subjects integrated and work on how we can connect our learning and integrate it better instead of having to teach subjects stand-alone. These kids at the moment are creating products to help our community be more sustainable but not just physically sustainable they are looking at making sure everyone is being inclusive, through diversity.”

Some of her highlights in her career so far have been, “getting my Leader of Teaching and Learning Innovation role that has been such a highlight for me. I have loved working with different students that are interested in STEM, and we have given kids that haven’t felt like sport or music isn’t their thing, giving them something else to do.”

“Implementing the STEM club and the podcasting and having these opportunities for students and seeing how beneficial it has been, that has been a highlight of my career”.

“Seeing those Year 6 students win last year, their faces when they won that was something I will never forget. Also, working with my podcasting students and seeing them press the button uploading their podcast to Spotify, seeing that level of excitement puts all the hours I need to come in makes it worth it.”

Olivia shared that her career interests in high school were Journalism as she loved literacy and writing but her interests moved towards Occupational Therapy or Speech Pathology as she always knew she wanted to work with kids in some way.

“I started looking into Speech Pathology in Year 12 and I did my final research project on it. My research project was building a board game for kids with speech disabilities and ended up touching base with heaps of speech therapists.”

“I remember putting down the teaching degrees at UniSA and the University of Adelaide and I ended up getting my first preference at UniSA, and I have never looked back since”.

Olivia shares the support she received at Nazareth throughout high school and the connection she has now as a staff member. “It’s that connection, and that’s what we do at Nazareth so well. We are all connected, and community is such a big thing with what we do”.

“I don’t think I had one staff member that I had a negative experience with during high school; that’s why it’s so lovely to go back, and I get to see them all now as a staff member”.

The three teachers Olivia says were influential throughout her schooling were Mrs Dametto, Mrs Deluca, and Ms Pannell.

“In Year 12 a big standout for me was Mrs Dametto, she supported me throughout year 12. She told me that I could be doing better than what I was doing. As Maths had never been my strong suit. But for some reason, I found accounting easier, and Mrs Dametto was so supportive.”

“Mrs Deluca was one of my English teachers she was absolutely beautiful.”

She continues “Ms Pannell was so supportive of our research project. These teachers were taking the research project on for the first time, and she was incredible, she just put so much time and effort into each of us. I remember before I finished, she made everybody a badge that represented their research project, so my badge was a little board game.”

The experience of transitioning from high school to university was where Olivia came out of her shell. “I was very quiet until I got into the real world, and I started working when I got to Uni. I didn’t know anyone at Uni, but on the first day I met my best friend.”

“When I got to Uni I had this big drive for my studies and used that as an opportunity to grow my confidence. That was the big shift in getting into the real world, starting a part-time job, and going to Uni, those together are what has made me confident.”

“UniSA is fantastic because it is, so placement driven, they put you in a placement year one, you’re standing up in front of kids, you are getting that growth from the beginning. By learning to be up-talking in front of different people. UniSA was great to help me build my confidence as a teacher and as a person”.

The advice she would give the current and future year 12 students is that “it’s your final year so just give it your all and do your best. Do something you love because that’s where your drive will come from, and if you do something you love, you will want to work hard towards it”.

Something to remember is to “give it your best shot, but if you don’t get there, just know there is always backway entry, and you can get to in different courses.

On the horizon for Olivia professionally is “I’m in the process of rolling out the design thinking at Nazareth. I want to build it and have more lunchtime opportunities in my STEM role”.

“Personal life, I’m happy. I will keep finding that work-life balance and I’m doing well at putting boundaries to switch off and to continue working with the amazing people that are at Nazareth”.


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