Where are they now - Matt De Jong (SPC 1979-84)
author: Lorrie Liston
The College reconnects with Matt De Jong (SPC 1979-84), who enjoyed the double fun of being a student at SPC and then, later a teacher here.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
I completed HSC in 1984 and went to Melbourne to study at Swinburne Institute of Technology (as it was known then) for a Bachelor of Education. When I completed this, I attended the Institute of Catholic Education in 1988 (Christ Campus Oakleigh - now A.C.U.). While studying I was also training to become a Christian Brother at their house in Box Hill. In 1989 I commenced two years of the novitiate and was posted to St Bernard’s College in Essendon in 1991 for my first teaching position. In 1993 I was transferred to Therry College in Broadmeadows. At the end of 1993 I left the Christian Brothers and moved to Assumption College, Kilmore to work in boarding in 1994 and 1995, and then teaching again in 1996 and 1997. After Assumption, I moved to Catholic College Sale for three years between 1998-2000. From 2001 to 2004, I found myself back at SPC as a staff member, heavily involved in helping to start up the Year 9 program in 2002-2004. At the beginning of 2005, I moved to Katherine in the NT to take up the position of Assistant Principal - Middle School at St Joseph's College, followed by seven years as Head of the Senior campus (Year 9-12) of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic College Alice Springs. I completed my time there after seven years at the end of 2014. In 2015 and 2016, it was back to Victoria as Religious Education Coordinator at Marian College Ararat, but late last year I was appointed Assistant Principal - Mission at Mount St Bernard College in Herberton, far north Queensland. M.S.B is a secondary college mainly devoted to indigenous boarders from the NT, north Queensland's gulf country, Cape York, Torres Strait and PNG. My position means that I am looking after the Catholic identity of the College from its liturgies, prayers, retreats, staff PD and teaching.
What are your favourite memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
My favourite memory as a student was my involvement in the cadets when I was in Years 9 to 11. In those days, the cadet program was funded by the Federal Government and we were able to go on a number of great camps, especially to Puckapunyal where we fired M16s on the live firing range and used army equipment. While a staff member from 2001-2004, my fondest memories were going on camps with my Year 9 homeroom to Barwon Heads, Melbourne and the Grampians as these experiences are always a great way to better know my students.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
Br Breach, who taught me Year 8 French has been a great influence on me. He was always positive, friendly and a great role model for life-long learning. He was also so gentle, especially as corporal punishment was common in my time as a student. Br Bob Aron, who taught me Year 12 history was also a very good teacher, he has to be because there were over 30 students in this class. Br Matt Miller made sure I knew my maths inside and out when he taught me.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
I think my SPC education has certainly prepared me as a teacher and it certainly has inculcated within me a love of lifelong learning. It has made me more resilient and more willing to make use of the opportunities that come my way. I have continued to study and am currently completing a M.Ed. in Cognitive Psychology.
What do you think the boys would remember most about you?
I would hope that my students I taught from 2001-2004 would remember a teacher who tried to make learning fun and enjoyable and who could laugh at himself.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
My advice for students today is make the most use of the resources you have at your disposal while at SPC. Ask your teachers for help if you need it, work hard and always take up any opportunity that presents itself.