11 Mar 2021
We welcome Beth Matters to Evelyn Scott School as our new Wellbeing Coach. Rewarded by the challenge of being present for learners, Beth launches into her groundbreaking role at Evelyn Scott School, supporting learners to develop critical skills for success in school life.
When did you decide education was for you?
I’ve always been passionate about education. When I was at school, I was very fortunate to have some inspirational teachers who fostered in me a love of poetry, writing, running and critical thinking. So, it was only natural that I wanted to emulate them and help shape the next generation of learners.
I clearly remember the conversation I had with my history teacher, Mr P when he asked, “What do you want to do when you leave school?” and I said “teaching”. He looked aghast and said this would be “a waste of my talents”. I was surprised that someone normally so encouraging and invested in my learning would think so lowly of his own profession. I insisted that not only would teaching provide me with unique opportunities to make a positive impact on others, but it would also provide a secure source of income. I was shocked by Mr P response “Yeah it’s about as secure as a coffin”. This got me thinking that perhaps teaching wasn’t for me after all. I mean who wants to be trapped and buried alive with no way to escape! Instead I thought I had better make use of “my talents” so I enrolled in a law degree. I found myself reading tort and contract law ad nauseum and quickly discovered I wasn’t making use of my talents!! I turned my attention to Psychology and hoped that one day I would find my myself working in a school. Life has a funny way of connecting you back to where you want to be.
Please describe your role. I am a Wellbeing Coach at Evelyn Scott School and to my knowledge I am the first of hopefully many more to come in ACT Education. This is an exciting and evolving role and the best way for me to describe it is I get to do all those things I really wanted to do as a Psychologist in a school but never had the time to do…Such as early intervention and prevention programs and coaching and mentoring others in behaviour, wellbeing and psychological flexibility. When we are psychologically flexible, we can stay calm, think broadly, be curious, take the perspective of others, recognise we have choices, and then move towards values-based actions.
Me interrupting a game of cricket for a photo opportunity on belonging. L to R - Brock, Dreydon, Sidney and Nixon.
How do you define success for yourself? Doing what you love most of the time without compromising who you are.
What is the most important skill you have learned on your path? Truly listening
What has been your greatest challenge? To be innovative and flexible in education so I’m not working in the coffin Mr P warned me about all those years ago.
What has been your greatest reward in the choices you've made? My biggest reward is often my biggest challenge. Being fully present with another in their pain and suffering is one of the hardest things I do but probably one of the most rewarding.
Some quick questions, just for fun:
Are you an early bird or night owl? Early bird
What’s your morning ritual? Cup of tea and breakfast in bed thanks to my husband. A cuddle with my dog Puff and a quick read of the news headlines.
What are five fun facts about you?
1. I’m terrified of geese
2. I play AFL and I’m a diehard Swans fan (Swans are very different to geese!)
3. My spirit animal is a squirrel
4. One of the craziest places I’ve ever been to and survived to tell the tale is the mosh pit at a Nirvana concert
What do you want to learn from this community of peers? And what do you want to give back? I’m really looking forward to learning how to embed future focused learning into our everyday practice. I want to give back a new way of developing (well) being programs based on neuroscience and the importance of human connection.
Year 6 with our favourite ‘prac teacher’, Austinmer Public School (1986). That’s me in the middle of the back row looking very displeased probably because I wanted to play footy with the boys.