Lisa White started out as a Business Banker in Collins Street, issuing loans to large corporate clients. Fast forward to 2021 and her work is vastly different, but she could not be happier.
As the Junior School’s Learning Enrichment Coordinator, Lisa who joined CGGS in 2018, leads a team of three and spends her days working with staff and students to differentiate the curriculum, resources or equipment to suit the school’s diverse range of learners.
“I absolutely love my job. The students I have the opportunity to work with make me smile each day through the things they do and say.”
“Every day has its rewarding moments… from helping a student to overcome their avoidance of reading or maths, being given a sand ‘cupcake’ in the playground to eat with my lunch and seeing the moment of pride when a student shares their work,” she says proudly.
So how does one go from the finance industry to education? For Lisa, her experience volunteering at a school ski camp was so rewarding she knew she had found her calling. Whilst still in banking, she decided to add a Bachelor of Education to her list of university degrees and enrolled almost immediately.
As soon as she qualified, Lisa commenced teaching VCE Business Management and Indonesian. She speaks fluent Indonesian thanks to spending most of her childhood in Indonesia and Singapore – returning to Australia on her own at 16 years of age to attend boarding school to complete VCE.
“I feel very lucky to have had that nomadic upbringing… attending International Schools in Asia, being immersed in and appreciating other cultures from a young age, developing early independence and, making lifelong friends who are dotted all over the globe who I’m still in contact with,” says Lisa.
Whilst on maternity leave, Lisa developed a taste for learning enrichment through her part-time role as Education Coordinator at the Ronald McDonald House, a role she held for seven years.
Her days were dedicated to working with students who were recovering from a long illness or serious injury and she acted as their advocate to return to school. Lisa says she was able to learn from their viewpoint about the importance of teacher-student relationships and the different ways students learn.
“It gave me a new perspective on teaching, and I knew I would always work in learning enrichment from then on,” she says.
It’s now been 12 years of working solely in learning enrichment and Lisa believes there will be many more to come. Earlier this year, she completed a Masters in Specialist Inclusive Education so she could learn more about different learning disorders and research-driven intervention strategies to assist students.
Whilst it wasn’t the first time she has returned to study – she also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Indonesian), Bachelor of Commerce (Management) and a Bachelor of Education (Primary & Secondary), Lisa says it definitely was more challenging this time around.
“Getting the work / family / study / life balance right was tricky at first but overall, I learned a lot and can put this into practice in my current role.”
With four degrees now, each from Deakin University, Lisa is living proof that you don’t have to decide right now what you want to be or do in life. Her advice to our students is to enjoy the journey rather than worrying about the final destination. And that’s exactly what she has done!
From her time spent in banking, to teaching and working with the families and hospital staff at Ronald McDonald House, to right here at CGGS, Lisa has enjoyed every minute. She’s pursued her dreams and passions regardless of her age or where she’s been in life.
“Whilst the courses I’ve completed at Deakin have spanned over 25 years, you’d never know as each time I enrol in a new course, they send me a student ID card with the same picture on it from 1994, when I enrolled in my first course,” she says giggling.
Lisa, it’s a joy to have you in the CGGS community and for our sake, we do hope this is your final destination… if it helps, we are happy to use the same photo each year on your ID card too!