Snowy Mountains Grammar School Alumna (Class of 1994, Twynam), Brooke Kennedy, held the position of Arts Captain in her final year at SMGS and was one of the school’s first–ever Band 6 recipients in Drama.
After completing her teaching degree in 2019, Brooke returned to her alma mater where she now teaches Year 4. When it comes to her passion for teaching and why she loves her job so much, Brooke said, “There is something so special about watching a student have the ‘light-bulb moment’ when they achieve something they have been working towards. It’s priceless. My students challenge me in the best way possible and make me laugh every day with their individual quirks and personalities. Watching them adapt to the challenges they have faced this year has made me incredibly proud to be their teacher.”
Of Brooke’s time at SMGS, Head of Faculty – English and Creative Arts, Head of House (Mowamba), Mrs Catherine Batson, said, “Brooke was a talented and committed student with a passion for the Arts. She not only starred in, but also choreographed most of the dances for the first of our biennial school musicals, Rockin’ Robin, in 2014. It is an absolute delight to see her back at the school passing on her love of learning to our Junior School students.”
What tertiary education path did youfollow after you graduated from SMGS? How did you become interested in that pathway?
After leaving SMGS in 2014 I had a gap year and stayed in Jindabyne, working casually in hospitality and retail. Before I finished school, I was lucky enough to receive an early admission offer to study a Bachelor of Primary Education at the University of Wollongong. Growing up, I loved the performing arts and was a passionate dancer. As I progressed through my high school years, I became an assistant dance teacher. During my final year at SMGS I helped to choreograph the Rockin’ Robin musical and taught dancing in the Junior School. I later combined my love of snowsports and teaching to become a ski instructor at Perisher. Teaching children has always been a passion of mine, so it made sense for me to pursue a career in education.
What is your current occupation, organisation, position and tenure?
Since completing my teaching degree last year, I taught casually in schools around the Illawarra and worked in after–school care. At the beginning of 2020, I was lucky enough to receive a teaching position – at SMGS! I have fifteen wonderful Year 4 students. It has been a surreal and incredible experience being back at SMGS, working alongside the teachers who taught me. I’m incredibly grateful to be back at SMGS and to have a class of my own.
What is your biggest source of motivation for your career and life pursuits?
There is something so special about watching a student have the ‘light–bulb moment’ when they achieve something they have been working towards. It’s priceless. My students challenge me in the best way possible and make me laugh every day with their individual quirks and personalities. Watching them adapt to the challenges they have faced this year has made me incredibly proud to be their teacher.
How did your time at SMGS help you in your journey to your current career and life pursuits?
Although SMGS has grown in size since I left in 2014, it still has the community feel that I enjoyed so much as a student. When I was in Year 12, we had a relatively small cohort which meant we needed to work together to overcome hurdles and be adaptable in order to achieve our goals. This alone taught me valuable skills which I have taken into my career. Having the opportunities to explore different avenues through academics, sport and co-curricular encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone.
What are some of your most memorable moments from your time at SMGS?
There are so many! Competing at ASSSTCs and Interschools was a highlight; I loved travelling to different ski resorts and competing alongside my friends. The school carnivals were always so much fun – we dressed up, screamed chants at the top of our lungs and everyone got involved. I also loved causing havoc in Cath Batson’s drama room with Ellie Symons and Fen Bannister – we had so much fun. (Sorry, Cath.)
What programs and co-curricular opportunities did you participate in?
HICES swimming and cross–country running, interschools – both skiing and snowboarding, dancing, school musicals and VAV performances.
What advice would you give to students who are beginning their HSC journey and starting to think about their future after they graduate?
The pressure of the final school year and the HSC can be daunting for some. Speak up if you need help; the teachers at SMGS are incredibly dedicated and are willing to take the time to help you. Send them your practice essays, ask for and accept their feedback, tell them if you are feeling overwhelmed. They want to see you be successful. Before leaving school, take some time to seek out work experience in fields you are interested in. It will allow you to explore your interests and assist you in making valuable connections that may be useful if you decide to take that particular career path.
Finally, enjoy it and have fun! It’s your final school year. Take care of each other and yourselves.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the SMGS Alumni/Old Scholars community?
Being a part of the SMGS Alumni program allows me to remain connected to the school community and to those who were an integral part of my final years of schooling. As a student, and now a returning teacher, it’s amazing to watch the school evolve and continue to grow. I feel incredibly grateful I have the opportunity to experience it all over again from a different perspective.