Where are they now - Tony Brandenburg (1969-74)
author: Lorrie Liston
The College reconnects with Tony Brandenburg (SPC 1969-74) who still has family involved with SPC and enjoys watching today’s students being challenged to grow up into fine young men.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
After St Patrick’s and university I became a teacher and moved to Mildura. From there I changed jobs frequently and moved through the profession, being a principal, a university lecturer, worked for the Catholic Education Office and was a Victorian public servant working for the Victorian Institute of Teaching and then a federal public servant working for Education Services Australia. I worked overseas a number of times and for the past five years I have travelled to a number of countries working with education ministers and ministry staff focusing on education strategic planning and the implementation of system wide technology initiatives.
I have three daughters and one granddaughter. Many of my nephews have attended St Patrick’s, which has kept me in contact. I have really enjoyed and watched with pride how my brother-in-law Howard Clark has worked with the St Patrick’s football teams over the years. I am especially proud of his emphasis on challenging the boys to be good young men and then to be good sportsmen.
What are your favourite memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
I have mixed memories of St Patrick’s. I boarded for the last two years of my secondary life and although it was a good idea for me academically I did take away mixed thoughts about boarding life and relationships. At the time I wasn’t overly impressed but as the years have rolled on I look back at those times and feel that I learnt more about life than I gave credit at the time. I remember with happiness Br Peter Cole, Peter Farley and Br Breach. I do think Ace and Jake taught me much about being a young man and Ace certainly got me through Social Studies and Biblical Studies in Year 12.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
I think Br Luke Guthrie had an important impact on my life. He was my Form 4 home room teacher. He was calm and a reassuring influence as we battled through Intermediate. Luke and I are still good friends and he is still a mentor and friend to this day. I can also remember Br O’Keane in Year 7 and Br Edmunds in Year 8 both having an impact on me. Br O’Keane taught me the importance of doing homework and meeting deadlines and Br Edmunds taught me that to laugh was an essential part of every day.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
I think it took me many years after leaving secondary education to appreciate St Patrick’s. I now value the teachers, the history and the traditions. I enjoy catching up with my friends from that time and it is now a good experience to walk through the corridors and pathways of the College. I do especially like watching the football, the nephews and brother in-law as they partake. I look back now and think I was so lucky to represent St Patrick's in the first tennis and basketball teams and it is still a buzz to see the photos on the wall. I do remember the night that St Patrick’s won the two divisions in the Under 18 Basketball and the talk at the stadium that St Patrick’s had finally become a basketball force in underage basketball in Ballarat. It was good to be part of that early times. I remember Gil Nichols; as does my mother, as he was the first to call me Tony and not Anthony, which stuck, and from then everyone called me Tony, other than my mother. I also think that in later times Dr Peter Casey, who I worked closely with on a number of projects, showed me the value and role that St Patrick’s has in the Ballarat community and the wider education community. I think St Patrick's did have an influence on my professional life as I learnt to work with people, I learnt to compromise and to negotiate, I learnt to believe in myself and my Christian values and I learnt that good friends are friends forever. I still value very much the friends I have from my days at St Patrick’s and to John Mildren, Tony Haintz and Damien Morgan, I will be always grateful for the lifelong friendship we have.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
I think that my time at St Patrick’s was during a time of change. The Christian Brothers were relying more and more on ‘lay teachers’, St Patrick’s was growing and the numbers of pupils was increasing rapidly. Early mornings in the corridors of the O’Malley wing was always an adventure in navigation and organisation. I learnt to appreciate good professional teachers and in many ways this encouraged me to follow that career path. I valued my parents want for me to have a good education and this has certainly stayed with me with my own children, and although having three daughters, and not having St Patrick’s open to their education, I do believe that my expectation for quality of teaching and resources comes from my life at St Patrick’s.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
I think, take each day as it comes, don't spend too much time worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, live life and enjoy the people around you.