Life has come full circle for Stephanie Pannach. She first stepped into the grounds of Yarra Valley Grammar as a Year 8 student. She is now back in the classroom – but as a teacher.
“Some of the teachers who taught me at Yarra were still here when I began working here. Learning to call the Deputy Principal ‘Andrew’, as opposed to ‘Mr Hocking’, was an adjustment!” says Stephanie.
“And the first time I saw inside the staff room was during my teaching placement – until then it was an elusive and secret room at the top of the stairs.”
Stephanie was involved in many aspects of school life. She particularly enjoyed school productions although says she never had a starring role.
“I was more often a tree or ‘girl on bus’. My biggest role was one of the three witches in Macbeth. But I didn’t care what role I had. I enjoyed the social aspect of productions and being able to perform what I’d practised.”
After graduating, Stephanie began a Business and Public Relations degree but quickly switched to Social Science, majoring in Psychology and Sociology.
“I took the scenic route to teaching. Before returning to study I worked in the Ambulance Emergency Call Centre. If anything has improved my communication skills, it was my time working there!
“I dealt with some very serious calls and also some happier ones – like Dads with babies on the way who needed some instructions and support as they waited for an ambulance to arrive.”
But with teaching, Stephanie has found her ‘calling’. She juggles working part-time at Yarra with chipping away at a PhD and lecturing in Educational Psychology at Deakin University.
“Educators can have a profound impact on students so I feel I’m in a privileged position. I don’t just want to teach but to make sure students feel safe and supported and have an environment where they can thrive.”
“My Year 8 English teacher, Melinda Scash, had a huge influence on me. She pushed me to think critically, she had a passion for learning and she was kind.”
In her busy life, Stephanie is also Mum to 15-month old son, James and in 2020 she celebrates her second Mother’s Day.
“I didn’t think I’d realise my dream of having a family, so James’s arrival felt like a miracle. The first year was a bit of a chaotic haze, as anyone who’s had a baby can attest to, but parenthood is incredible and James is what I am most proud of in my life.”