Meet our staff: Sharyn Henderson

Dec 4, 2020 | Community News

PE and Heath teacher Sharyn Henderson, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years, including six years at Gippsland Grammar. Sharyn is a PE, Health and English teacher by trade but she has also spent time in Arts, Sciences, Religion and Performing Arts classrooms, as well as lecturing at University. Her husband Justin is also a Gippsland Grammar teacher and her children are also current students. Sharon also has an Advanced Coaching Qualification in Gymnastics, has a passion for music and theatre and has been involved with the Sale Theatre Company.

What do you love about working at Gippsland Grammar?
There’s no question that the students are the best part of my day. They challenge me to do better and be better all the time. It’s not always easy as they can be really honest in their opinions, but if you ask for feedback you have to be prepared take the student voice on board. As a Year 10 – 12 Mentor, I see the interesting journey through those senior years of school and the students that enter my class as Year 10s are barely recognisable as the young adults that leave at the end of Year 12. It’s such a privilege to be part of that.

What is the greatest success you’ve had at Gippsland Grammar?
Being awarded the 2020 JAT Beard travel scholarship has been a real positive so far. Even though my study trip to Boston, USA this year was postponed due to global pandemic, I am so excited to be able undertake further study in the future. My passion is in the area of student wellbeing and this is such a great opportunity to be able to develop my skills further in this area.

What is your highlight of the School day?
This year it has definitely been Mentor Group with my Year 12s, which we call our ‘family meeting’. It’s a great space to connect, work through the plan for the day/week/term and I’ve seen such an important connection develop in this time. Especially during Learn@Home when our regular ‘family meetings’ became a place where everyone was free to embrace how they were feeling, and support each other. We also always have a really full lolly jar and some intense trivia competitions happening; my Year 12s have reminded me so often this year why I teach, and given me so many reasons to smile. Some days I’m sure they’ve helped me more than I helped them.

What is the event that you look forward to most each School year?
My favourite event is the Wellington Schools Gymnastics Championships which are hosted by Maffra Gymnastic Club.  I’ve take our team for the past two years, and it a great opportunity to see our junior and senior students compete together in a ‘non-traditional’ sporting arena. The talent throughout all campuses of our school in Gymnastics and Tumbling is amazing, and watching our senior students, many of whom have competed at a state and national level; mentor, coach and support our junior school athletes is pretty special.

What is your favourite memory to date of your time at Gippsland Grammar?
The 2019 staff performance of Revolting Children (from Matilda) would have to be right up there – along with a memorable exhibition of staff talent in the dance section – there were some very impressive 80s dance moves on show!

What is your best advice to students at Gippsland Grammar?
Be brave and be kind. I find myself saying these two things a lot. For me being brave means being able to ask for what you need, trying new things, admitting your mistakes and standing up for what you believe in. Kindness is such a valuable gift to ourselves and the people around us. You never really know what is going on for others. Smile, say please and thank you, be genuine and honest. As I tell my Year 12s every day: ‘look after yourselves – look out for each other’.

2020 has been a challenging year, were you able to find a silver lining?
For me the silver lining came in finding new ways to connect with my students while working remotely and being challenged to build meaningful connections.  Creating safe spaces for students to learn and feel seen and valued in virtual classrooms was a completely different ball game. I was so grateful for the way the students embraced my crazy ideas of family lunches, bring a pet day, weekly trivia challenges and my favourite – Fancy Friday. I’m still not quite sure what they really thought when I turned up on Zoom dressed as Cat in the Hat, or the Gingerbread man – but I’m confident it made a few people smile and laugh.

Do you have any personal hobbies?
I’ve coached gymnastics at Maffra Gymnastic Club for a number of years, and studied to become an Accredited Advanced Level coach. I’ve been so privileged to coach at both regional and state level with gymnasts who have achieved some amazing results. I’ve also had opportunities to coach and learn at the National Centre for Excellence in Gymnastics, and learn from the Australian National Team coaching staff and athletes which was such an amazing opportunity. I also really enjoy community theatre, and have had so much fun performing in productions with the Sale Theatre Company including; Cosi, Peter Pan, Eurosong and Showstoppers. Many people are also surprised to find that I am an avid reader and have been a part of a monthly book club for almost 20 years. At the moment I am reading The gifts of imperfection and Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, and have just finished Becoming by Michelle Obama.

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