Year 5 Mentor
B Ed (P -10)
“There are so many amazing opportunities at Mentone Grammar, in such a large and diverse range of fields. It’s truly a great place to teach and learn.”
Matt Hardie grew up in the suburb of Somerville, on the Mornington Peninsular.
Sport played a huge role in Matt’s childhood, and he was regularly enrolled in four different sports at one time. “Until the age of 16, I participated in a lot of games, including baseball, basketball, footy, swimming, cricket and so many more,” he said.
At school, Matt adored studying Physical Education, Mathematics and Humanities, “years later, these subjects would become my favourite subjects to teach,” he chuckles. While Matt enjoyed school and was successful in his classes, he struggled to find a healthy balance between his studies and keen involvement in sports and co-curricular opportunities. “In my younger years, I didn’t develop a good routine that helped me keep on top of my homework. As I progressed with school, it soon became apparent that I needed to make changes, it was a bit of an eye-opener!” Matt admits. “When I turned 16, my parents suggested that I choose just one sport to pursue, as my whole time was taken up with co-curricular activities, and I hardly saw my family during the week,” Matt said. After careful consideration, Matt chose his one sport: baseball, which he’d been playing since he was 5 years old.
Matt would come to appreciate this decision as it enabled him to focus his energy completely on baseball, leading to coaching in his late teens. Matt quickly realized he had a knack for coaching, and he saw great successes, including coaching representative and Victorian squads at several National Championships, and winning the National Championships in 2021.
This affinity for coaching and teaching was in the family, Matt grew up surrounded by people who were all teachers; “I had two grandparents, my aunties, and family friends who were all educators, so teaching was a big part of my world,” Matt shares. “My younger sister recently commenced her career in education, and I met my wife at Monash University while we were studying to become teachers,” Matt laughs.
Not a moment was wasted when it came time for Matt to submit his university preferences. “Coming from a family of educators, teaching was always at the front of my mind from an early age. Throughout my secondary years, I flip-flopped between wanting to become an architect, a chef, or a police officer, but I always came back to teaching.”
“Over the years I’ve found that my passion is working with students in those key middle years– it’s an integral time of growth. Students are learning so much about themselves and they’re navigating what it means to grow into a young adult. I find it so rewarding to work with them through their challenges and their wins – being a teacher means I can be part of their journey.”
Matt started his teaching career at a small primary school where he happily worked for several years. “I loved working at my first primary school, but after some time, I began looking for an environment where I was challenged to take my own learning as an educator to the next level”. When an opportunity became available at Mentone Grammar in (2019), Matt jumped at the chance to apply, “this School was big and exciting, I’m so glad I took the risk.”
Throughout his years at this school, Matt has been inspired by the opportunities at Mentone Grammar, “There are so many amazing opportunities in such a large and diverse range of fields, from sports, to the arts and technology, and leadership and cadets added to the variety of Learning Journeys available and being able to get those life experiences along the way. It’s truly a great place to teach and learn.”
Many can agree that Matt has brought so much warmth and expertise to Mentone Grammar; when a student enters his classroom, they are met with a teacher who values and celebrates them as an individual. “I try to teach in a way that’s fun, and links learning to real-life experiences, so that my students can understand the purpose behind what they’re studying. It’s important to me that I build a connection with my students, ensuring that they feel heard in what can be a challenging stage of life to navigate.”
When thinking about a highlight of his teaching career, Matt’s answer may come as a surprise: “The start of the pandemic in 2020 was a year that truly inspired me as a teacher. We were facing such unprecedented times, yet my class of Year 6 students took everything in their stride and showed such commitment and energy in their learning. This was the first time any of us had faced online learning, but these students showed up every day with positivity and determination. I was so proud to be their teacher and concluded that year feeling like we had all grown so much as individuals.”
After years of experience, Matt offers the following words of wisdom: “I always speak to students about the importance of having a well-rounded life balancing study, family and hobbies. I’m a big believer that co-curricular activities play an important role in our lives. Hobbies provide us with something fun, interesting, and challenging to do, and they help young people find a sense of purpose outside of school. Including these activities into our routine and finding the balance between them all is key, and much easier to do at the beginning of your learning journey.”