In less than two weeks, our students have shown us how much they appreciate the opportunities afforded to them to experience school life and celebrate together. Our Year 10 Induction Program, our House Swimming carnival and the Year 12 Connection Day and Year 12 Formal have all been occasions in which students have, in their own ways, demonstrated our values of Care, Respect and Growth. Of course, we can’t wait to celebrate the Centenary Celebration Day with our community on Monday 13 February.
This year, we are so pleased to be welcoming three staff members to new leadership roles in the Senior School. Katherine Cameron has taken on the role of Year 10 Co-ordinator, Demi Voulgaris has stepped into the role of Year 11 Co-ordinator, and Denis Overberg will care for our Year 12 Class of 2023 in the role of Year 12 Co-ordinator.
I sat down recently with Denis to learn more about him and his approach to life at Carey. In the coming terms, I look forward to introducing Katherine and Demi to you in a similar way.
I wish you and your family all the best for a wonderful centenary year at Carey.
Head of Senior School
Why did you want to become the Year 12 Co-ordinator?
There are several reasons why I wanted to be the Year 12 Co-ordinator.
First, I love working with young people and the opportunity to work closely with over 300 students in their final year has a massive appeal to me.
Secondly, I had the opportunity to join a team for whom I have a great level of respect. The opportunity to work with the likes of Mme Petithory and Mr Young, as well as Mrs Lyneham and Mr Gregory was one that was too good to pass up. I believe that great teams bring out the best in people, so this is also a great opportunity for me to learn and grow.
Furthermore, when I was in Year 12, school wasn't a great place for me. I would like to help create a culture that builds great people and respect us for who we are. Being a Year 12 Co-ordinator gives me the opportunity to help build a culture of kindness, acceptance, excellence and fun, all in an environment in which young people can truly be themselves. When you can authentically be yourself, you maximise your potential and, in turn, can contribute to making the world a better place.
What would you tell your 17-year-old self?
If I had the opportunity to give some advice to my 17-year-old self I would tell him three things:
People will give opportunities to those whom they find kind, respectful and compassionate; if you treat people well, opportunities will come your way. When you get these opportunities, say yes, even if they're outside your comfort zone, and do your best – you never know where it will take you. When you find something that you love and are passionate about, give 100%. Furthermore, hard work will always trump natural talent.
There will always be someone who is smarter, taller, funnier, faster, stronger or more popular than you. But there is no person on the planet with your own unique mix of skills and abilities. Be kind and forgiving to yourself, and to others. Furthermore, you are not a product of your upbringing: you can design your own self. The person who you want to be is a series of deliberate decisions based on the values you choose to have. You can be anyone you wish to be.
The world is an incredible mirror. There are people in the most unfortunate circumstances who still find happiness in their everyday existence, and there are people who have privilege beyond imagine who are still deeply miserable. If you can find a way to connect with others and serve them with the most generous intent, you may experience a level of joy, satisfaction and fulfilment that you will never feel alone.
I understand that you have recently stepped down from the summer holiday role of director of operations at the Australian Open after 35 years of service. What did you learn from your experiences with the AO?
In the context of running a business or putting on an event, I learned that great culture is the most important ingredient of a happy and productive workplace.
Personally, what I learnt from the Australian Open is that an ordinary person like me can have an extraordinary and privileged experience. I had this amazing opportunity to work at the highest level of a high-profile sport. While my day-to-day life working at such a prestigious event enabled me to talk to celebrities and famous people, the greatest joy that I had was to be able to give opportunities to people and find a way to make their dreams come true. To have power is to be able to say yes when you shouldn't, and to enable someone else to have an opportunity that they would never otherwise have had. To give someone those opportunities is one of the greatest pleasures of my life.
What is the one skill you have that you have not yet used in your life?
While I can remember almost every phone number from my childhood years, my true superpower is to be able to name the title and artist of just about any 1980s hit, after hearing just the first few seconds. This has proven to be absolutely useless in all aspects of my life.
Feature image: Our new Year 12 Co-ordinator, Denis Overberg, with our IB Co-ordinator, Frédérique Petitory, at the Year 12 Formal last weekend.