My interview with Andrew Symington, Deputy Principal of Narrogin Senior High School
Both my parents were teachers, so I suppose that that was a natural career. I actually starting teaching swimming when I was 15, because my supervisor broke his arm and I was the only thing left. I have always had a passion for education, which is why I became firstly an instrumental teacher, teaching violin, viola, cello, flute and clarinet, as well as conducting junior string ensembles and full orchestras. I loved the administration side of things and my journey has taken me from Perth to Boddington and now Narrogin SHS.
I love teaching students to learn and to be challenged and motivated to pursue their careers. I love engaging with young people to try to get the most out of them.
Associating with students on an everyday occurrence is very gratifying, because there are some students who I have taught from Year 3 right through to Year 12, and it is inspiring to see the growth and the development over that time, and then to catch up with them in passing along a street to see what they have further achieved post schooling.
My mother inspired me to be the best that I can be by aiming high, working really, really hard and trying to open as many doors as are possible.
As violin was my main instrument, I used to spend too much time practising, and hence my social life was not very good. It has been a challenge to put myself out there when relationship building has not been my strong point.
A good leader is someone who people look up to, who follow their example and are willing to challenge themselves to be the best that they can be. A good leader is a moral and ethical person who inspires others to lift and improve. A good leader is someone who doesn’t have to ask or command others to be the best. They demonstrate the standard and encourage others to follow behind.
My inter-personal skills – building relationships. This is the key aspect for a leader. If they can’t talk to people, heart to heart, then they have a more difficult road to progress.
As a deputy principal, I am responsible for the school leavers to be ready for post schooling options, whether work or TAFE or anything else. I, through the staff at school, directly affect the young people, hopefully setting them up for success after school finishes.
I would love for more businesses to open their doors and allow young people to have the opportunity to make mistakes as they progress through their career journey. I would like businesses to be more proactive in recruiting potential staff to their business. I would encourage businesses to employ more people, offering them the opportunity to have further education associated with the work. Unfortunately, nothing is for free these days as everyone wants something in return. It would need a huge social shift for this to happen.
I think there is lots of opportunity for people to get together if there is a will for it to succeed. There are always those with good intentions who get knocked back because of those with negativity. I am always inspired by those that push through the barriers and make things happen. There are several groups in town that, despite the odds being against them, continue to provide opportunities for others not so fortunate.
I feel I have a fair bit of impact as I see them almost everyday. There are those who have chosen to leave school and when I see them out and about, and enquire how they are going, they are only to ready to stop and have a chat about what is current in their lives. I feel that even though they did not succeed, they still will find what they are looking for at some point in their life in the very near future.
Lead by example.
By believing in the students to be the best that they can be. Sometimes this is easy to get a student to more on, and other times it takes a little bit of a push to get them motivated when you know that they can achieve great things.
The youth must have a desire and want to do better. Unfortunately, the poverty cycle has a huge impact on them and it is hard for them to extricate themselves from its clutches. Positive opportunities and someone to be a mentor is essential to help these types of youth, as they really don’t have any good role models and the ‘stars of Hollywood’ are so very far removed. Leading by example is another fantastic aspect that they need.
More community projects such as automotive, gardening, helping those less fortunate. If they can get an idea of the positive effect that they can have on others, it may help them to leave that life behind. Strong goals which have an impact would also be beneficial.
I kept on trying. Practising the violin helped immensely as it was an opportunity to do something other than schooling. It allowed me to relax and refocus on what was important. It also helped having a parent who was behind me every step of the way, firm and strong, who didn’t allow me to ‘run away’ from the problem, but to continue to try and find ways to solve the problem that was facing me.
In retrospect, it would have been nice to be a dentist or chiropractor and some other profession. But at the end of the day, you have to be happy in the job that you are doing and find success in the small things that cross your desk every day.
I didn’t pursue my dream career because it would have put me in too much debt! Plus the fact that it would have worn my poor brain cells out with trying to remember all those facts. I am most happy being able to pick up a violin and after the 10,000+ hours of practise, I can still amaze others with my talent.
I started to pursue my career when I was 15 and started teaching swimming. I really liked the fact that students didn’t drown at the end of the lessons, but continued to improve their strokes. This naturally led on to teaching the violin, seeing I had been playing it since I was 5 years of age.
No. I was very content to be the best. I set my standards and bat high, but knew that all that fame would go to my head and I wouldn’t be the down-to-earth, well centred person I am today.
I am still nervous today when I get up in front of people. I am just better at hiding that fact. But also, if you become really good at something then gives you the bonus confidence to succeed and impress. Also, don’t let on that you are nervous!
Narrogin is country and I love the countryside and as my wife is also from the country, we find it very therapeutic and find that life is relatively stress free in a rural environment.
I would take my family on an extended working vacation around the world. As a teacher, I would be able to find work anywhere, which would give us the opportunity to stay in places for longer periods of time and experience life outside of Australia.