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Turning full circle

Siblings Julie Cooper (CC2004) and Paul Cooper (CC2007) loved their time as Cornish students. Little did they know that they would end up back here!

When Julie and Paul finished Year 12, neither knew that they would return to Cornish.

Julie studied Medicine and completed placements in the Northern Territory and Ghana. She had planned to work in emergency medicine, but decided to pursue her passion for science on a new path – education. After some guidance from former Cornish Principal Mr Bolger, Julie completed her Master of Education and interned at Cornish, where she “fell in love with the place again”. She now teaches Science, Health and VCE Biology and is also the Year 10 Academic Care Leader – a role she loves.

Meanwhile, Paul qualified as a commercial cook and then studied multimedia design and systems administration. He worked in app development and lighting and design in theatre, before commencing his current role at Cornish as an Audio Visual Technician and a Woodwork Technician. He often assists in Design Technology classes and behind the scenes in Cornish productions, providing support with his diverse skills.

“I consider myself lucky to have experienced my youth and schooling here, so it’s nice to be able to give back and give my expertise, knowledge and experience to students. There’s learning from a book and then there’s vocational knowledge and experience. I try to give a good middle ground for them to see what it’s like in the industry.”

Although it was a little strange at first, Julie and Paul both enjoy working with their former Cornish teachers.

“Initially, it was a bit strange,” Julie says. “But it’s really nice to work with, learn from and be supported by the people who supported me as a student. I’m still learning from them, which is really cool.”

“It was a bit surreal coming back, but it’s always felt like home. The hardest part is calling teachers by their first name,” Paul adds.

They both note Cornish’s positive influence on them.

“Cornish reflected our family values and influenced the way I view life and interact with others,” Julie says. “It helped to reinforce how I see the world and helped me to understand that others don’t always view the world the way that I do, but that’s okay.”

“What I learnt here has been invaluable, not only in my work life but my personal life as well – it’s really shaped who I am,” Paul adds. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Cornish and the people who taught me.”

Both agree that the College has grown since they were students but its spirit remains unchanged.

“Cornish’s philosophies remain the same,” Paul says. “We’re able to enhance and build upon that foundation through buildings, grounds and materials, and new technologies. It’s incorporating sustainability, teaching ideals, ideologies and methodologies to give the best education possible.”

Julie agrees. “It’s changed so much, but at its essence, its soul is the same. The core of what we do and why we do it is still the same.”

Both are proud to call Cornish home again.

“Being proud to be an alumnus and a staff member is taking pride in the person I am and the people who have been created through Cornish,” Paul says. “It’s a really common thread of Cornish alumni – they’re all well-rounded, caring, thoughtful human beings. It’s held everyone in such good stead. It’s a real testament to this place.”

“There’s just something about Cornish that is really special,” Julie adds.

“After I did my teaching internship here, I wanted to become the kind of teacher that I was seeing and working with, and to do what they do and have the passion and the care that they do.

“I love that I get to be part of Cornish again in a different capacity and give back to a place that I valued and appreciated. I am so grateful for having been able to come to this school.”

This story featured in the Winter 2020 edition of The Difference

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