School Drop-Out to School Teacher
Mr. Garlic dropped out of school to get an apprenticeship, and his mum wasn’t happy. Now he’s a school teacher, just like his mum, and working hard to make school a better place to be.
Mr. Garlic-Doer, [may I] have yourconsent to put this on FBI radio?
Yes mate, absolutely.
Okay. My name is Mereki Dennis-Reid and I am going to interview Mr. Garlic, who is from Sir Joseph Banks High School. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Sure. Thank you very much, Mereki. First of all, I’d like to say that I am very… flattered that you would ask me. So, yeah, like you said, I’m Mr. Garlic. I am a teacher here at Sir Joseph Banks High School. I work in Student Services, I work in the wellbeing department, um, I’m… yeah.
What was the most memorable moment of your life, and why?
Oh okay, well, I’ve had quite a few but probably the most memorable was when my daughter was born. Um, it really changed my life, and I remember it being one of those moments that really affected me positively on the inside. And I still remember it really well.
What was your inspiration as a child?
As a child… the earliest memory I have of having a goal for the future was — I think I was in high school, but it might have been primary school, high school or primary school. But I wanted to be a meteorologist, like a weather person. For some reason, weather, I found really interesting back then. And then — yeah, so that was one of my first ones. Um… yeah.
So, what is your passion now?
Okay, things I’m passionate about now. I’m really passionate about my job. Like, I really love what I do at Sir Joseph Banks High School. I like finding ways to support students. I like finding ways to excite students about learning, and being part of a really positive team that helps create an environment where the kids enjoy being at school. So that’s something that I’m really, really passionate about.
I’m very passionate about my family, I love spending time with them. Doing interesting and different things with them, outside usually. Um, and I’ve recently moved and I’ve got back to a house with a garden, and I’m getting back into gardening so I’m passionate about that, too.
Describe the place you spent your childhood.
Oh, okay, so I grew up in Campbelltown. Um, I had a pretty normal growing up, you know, a normal kind of street with friends in the street. Rode bikes and played footy and tennis and cricket and sport in the road, so we did that when I grew up. What else did we do?
I’d go on holidays every year with the family, like, we’d go on the Christmas holidays. Usually we’d go to a place called Scott’s Head, which was up near Coffs Harbour. That was a caravan park, I have good memories of that. Running amuck with the other kids in the caravan park, and surfing and getting sunburnt and getting in trouble. Climbing trees and bushwalking. All that kind of normal stuff.
Describe one significant memory from your childhood.
Hmmm! Good question! Well my parents — when I was in Year 7 my parents had separated. And I remember at the time it was really hard for me, but I look back at that now and I realise it was a very important part of my life in that I had to grow up and be mature, and had to help my mum out, and I had to understand my dad’s position in the situation as well. It was really diff– but I remember at first, when I first found out it was happening, I was really selfish about it and I was angry at them because of how it affected me. And it took me a long time to realise that it was very difficult for them, too.
Is there a smell, taste, or image that takes you back to your childhood?
Hmmm. Maybe not my childhood, but there are certain songs that I will listen to [that bring back memories]. Um, when I was — how old was I? In my early 20s, like 20-21, me and some friends travelled through Europe. We had a campervan, we built a van that we could sleep in, and we drove through different parts of Europe, and Africa as well. And we didn’t have much music, cos it was back in the days where you had to have CDs.
So we didn’t have many different songs, not much variety, so we listened to the same music all over and over and over again. But if I hear one of those four or five CDs or any songs off those, I can — it always, like, puts a picture in my mind of where we were when I heard that song, and I haven’t thought about that place or that memory in a long time, so yeah.
How did you end up becoming a teacher?
Okay, this is where I talk a lot. So I left school in Year 11. I [had come] back to school after school holidays, and had had a really good time with my mates and I felt like I’d outgrown school. So I decided, I’ll look for a job. Found an apprenticeship. Mum wasn’t happy, she wanted me to go to Uni. But I was really keen to get a job and I got a really good job, I worked in a garden centre. Um, got my apprenticeship, I did really well at that. I really enjoyed the job, I got lots of promotions.
And then I arranged an opportunity with my boss to do, like, a work exchange. So I went and worked over in England at a different garden centre for a few months, just for the experience, and that’s where I got the taste for travelling. But I worked in the garden centre industry for ten years, and I really, really enjoyed it, but I worked in retail and I realised after ten years that it wasn’t gonna suit my lifestyle if I was to have a family.
So I thought I needed to try and look at different career options that would suit my family life. My mum’s a teacher, my sister’s a teacher, heaps of my cousins are teachers, teaching is in my family. And I realised that maybe I was a teacher, too [laughs]. So I looked into going to Uni, and then I applied and I got in, and I really enjoyed University. And then once I graduated I started working at Sir Joseph Banks High School, and I’ve never wanted to teach at another school since. That was six years ago, I think now.
And you enjoy teaching?
Love teaching. Like, I really, really — I enjoy it more than I thought I would, and I enjoy every day I go [to school]. Some days are really, really difficult… but I work with such a great team of people, I love the students, I love the families, I really do feel like a part of the school. So I love it, yeah.
So, [what was] the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome?
Um, probably the hardest thing — when I was at University, I was working to help support — cos I did have a child. She was only a little baby, but I was working to support the family. Um, and I was working in the rail industry, like trains and stuff. I was a safety officer. And on one of the shifts, I got hit by a car and I broke my leg. It was pretty serious, I had to get an ambulance and go to hospital. I was in hospital for, like, five days, I had operations and metal in my leg, and screws, and bolts, and things like that.
It took a long time, took maybe almost a year to fully recover all the use of my leg. I had to go to physio, it was really difficult. And when it happened my daughter was, like, six weeks old so I couldn’t hold her, I couldn’t feed or change her. It was really, really difficult, and it was hard not being able to do things. I’m an independent person, I like to do things for myself, and needing help to get up or to sit down or to get things or to go places or to drive me places, I found it really, really difficult. But, yeah, eventually I persevered and I got over it.
If you had one piece of advice for your younger self, what would that be?
Hmmm! These are really good questions! Hmm. One piece of advice for myself when I was younger would be… hmmm…. be considerate of other people. Understand that other people have different views of life, they see things in a different way because of the different things that they’ve experienced.
And it’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about knowing that you may not agree with somebody but you don’t agree because you haven’t lived their life, and if you had lived their life maybe you would think the same thing as other people. So I would advise myself to be a little bit less judgemental. Um, it took me a long time to learn that. And I think, to be more accepting of other people and their views when I was younger.
Thank you Mr. Garlic for introducing yourself and your childhood.