We are delighted to introduce Gary Marchanton, who will be teaching the Grade 3 and 4 class at Linden this fall. Gary is OCT certified, and has a B.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame, Australia with a specialization in science and theatre studies. Gary’s experience includes teaching at the Arrowsmith School, Branksome Hall, and several schools and universities in Australia. Gary is passionate about information/communication technology (ICT) and its pedagogical use in K-12 classrooms, and as a skilled presenter, he has taught several courses on this topic to teachers at the University of Notre Dame and Murdoch University in Australia. Gary brings high energy and a wealth of life experience to Linden.
Linden: Tell us about your versatile teaching background, and how your teaching philosophy will benefit Linden girls.
Gary: I started my teaching career at a “tough” school in Australia. Many of the students had a parent or sibling in the local prison. Though it was very much trial by fire, I loved every minute of it and realized that patience, tolerance, and creativity got me through that first year. There was a high risk of teenage pregnancy in the local high school and an expectation among many in the community that the girls would go on to become homemakers or part-time workers. This didn’t sit well with me, so I directed my teaching to focus on strong female role models and other interesting career and life choices. This early experience has set the tone in my teaching philosophy.
Linden: What about your experience teaching children with learning disabilities?
Gary: So often, people have a misconception that a learning disability equals low intelligence. The truth is, everyone has a learning disability of some sort no matter how significant, even those people we regard as gifted and successful—Richard Branson, for example, who also has a learning disability. We all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s my role as a teacher to discover students’ strengths and preferred learning styles, to harness their interests while at the same time addressing any difficulties and challenging students to overcome obstacles. A learning disability can be turned around with respect and patience.
Linden: Tell us about your innovative use of technology in the classroom and what other teachers can learn from you.
Gary: Technology is all around us, and in everything we see. It’s amazing to think that, not long ago, the use of a ballpoint pen was considered an innovation in the classroom but these days, computers are no longer seen as such. Technology moves fast. Tablets and smartphones are the norm in our society, and there’s good reason for it: they work. When thinking about the classroom, we shouldn’t be looking at technology and wondering how to incorporate it—that’s when things go wrong. Instead, it should be fluid and obvious, just as it is in other aspects of our lives. I embrace all levels of technology—from a magnifying glass to the latest Apple device—and believe in using the right tool for the job. What can other teachers learn from me? Probably not as much as they can learn from the students!
Linden: Since you have also worked as a scientist for Scientists in School, how will you integrate your experience and knowledge towards Linden’s excellent STEM program?
Gary: First let me just state, I love science! So hopefully, my enthusiasm is contagious. With Scientists in School, I harnessed an interest in a science topic, controlled multiple science experiments, and led students on a journey of discovery. (Strangely, my drama background came in very handy.) Now I get to do that in more depth, incorporating multiple learning areas. Science is a part of everything we do and requires creativity and logic. Science requires not only math and research skills, but also an understanding of morality and the use of imagination. It was Albert Einstein who said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Linden: Your experience includes working as an Adventure and Tour Guide in Australia. We would love to learn more about your exciting experience in this area!
Gary: I used to lead small group adventure tours into some of the most beautiful, amazing, and remote parts of Australia. In addition to guiding tourists through the environment and explaining the history, flora, and fauna, I was also responsible for driving the 4WD bus, cooking, and setting up camping. Every tour was unique. My passengers ranged from Japanese school groups to international backpackers to an English Earl. They spoke a range of languages and pretty much all of them were well out of their element. The girls will definitely hear about those experiences—look out for the frog story and the stromatolites!
Linden: What are you most excited about as you start teaching at Linden?
Gary: I’m very excited about having a small class size. I can really get to know each student and commit a greater amount of time to each of them in order to experience those “ah ha” moments that teachers thrive on. We’ll become a small community of learners, helping each other, with a sense of belonging. I also love the location. Simple excursions are only steps away, from the nature of the ravines to the bustle of the city. Most of all, I’m excited to do what I love: teach.