Martin Conlon

Inspiring Staff

Martin Conlon

Landscape Gardener

No two days are ever the same for our resident green thumb!

Martin Conlon joined Camberwell Girls in 2014. As the School’s Landscape Gardener, he spends most of his time outside ensuring our grounds and gardens remain beautiful all year round.

He hails from Cork in southern Ireland and moved to Melbourne in 2009. With a diploma in Art History, a diploma in Horticulture and a long career in graphic design, Martin is now able to combine his passion for the outdoors with his strong knowledge of design and we the Camberwell Girls community greatly benefit.

“My design background really helps me view the landscape in terms of colour, shape and form. How things look in the garden is as important to me as how things grow,”
says Martin.

Gardens connect us with the land and with nature. They remind us that there are seasons, that nature needs time to grow and blossom and that patience will be rewarded. In many ways, gardens are a wonderful antidote to the fast-paced, technology driven and instant-gratification world in which we live.

“Gardening is really good for the soul and extremely rewarding. If you’re not into the physical work, just take a stroll through a nice garden and you’ll notice colour and texture. And, they are important islands of habitat for wildlife in our increasingly built up and built over environment,” he says.

The School’s gardens change seasonally, and if you’re looking really closely, Martin says – daily. A large role, with two schools to maintain, no two days are ever the same for our resident Irishman.

He ensures all existing gardens are maintained to the highest standards, that any seasonal issues are anticipated and responses prepared. From planting to pruning, weeding to watering, Martin plans all aspects of our gardens to make a complete and effective ecosystem.

He’s also responsible for lawn mowing and tasks such as line marking the oval and keeping paths clean. His favourite task is, of course, designing new gardens or totally renovating an existing garden space.

“I have a particular fondness for designing new gardens and then planting them up. Seeing the gardens conform to the original design idea and thrive is a bonus. But… if I’m honest, I am not so keen on cutting grass, except if I’m on the Toro mower! Grass takes up valuable space that I could otherwise fill with plants,” he says.

Martin’s inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. He’s constantly reading and researching and he visits nurseries regularly.

“More often than not I plan new gardens on my Mac. It lets me experiment with ideas before I start digging holes in the school grounds,” he says.

And, he’s quick to add, “Oh, I hate when it rains heavily because I can’t garden. That’s really boring.”

Besides heavy rain, the only other frustration for Martin is that gardens can take a long time to get them to where he wants them to be.

Interested in working at Camberwell Girls?

Fiona Gibson

Inspiring Educator

Fiona Gibson / Head of Creative Arts Program - Junior School

I encourage the girls to take risks with their ideas

Fiona Gibson joined Camberwell Girls in 1997 as a Junior School classroom teacher. A passionate artist and longtime creative, Fiona recalls growing up in a family that always took her to galleries and art show openings.

“My parents were really into art, sculpture, architecture, gardening, jewellery and photography. I very quickly developed an interest in the same things and learnt to appreciate the beauty in everyday life,”
says Fiona.

After 17 years of classroom teaching, just two years ago the school decided to move Fiona from her Prep Classroom to the Discovery Centre, where she now heads up our Junior School Creative Arts Program. We haven’t looked back and nor has Fiona.

You only have to step foot inside the Junior School and you soon notice the impact that Fiona is having on our students. Beautiful creations, anything from sculpture to paintings and drawings to ceramics adorn the walls, columns, bookshelves

and locker areas. Fiona has truly created a sea of colour and a culture of creativity at Ormiston.

Fiona believes her role is really to inspire the students and that, she does!

“I want the girls to develop risk taking with their ideas and I want them to experiment with different styles, materials and techniques. I endeavour to always provide open-ended and challenging tasks so that they never tire of wanting to create,” says Fiona with a big smile.

Fiona believes that gaining an understanding of artists the world over, their artworks and their style, as well as art through the ages is also important.

“I particularly love Indigenous artists and my favourites would have to be Emily Pwerle, Bombatu Napangati and Betty Mbitjana. I love the colours and patterns but more importantly, the stories and strong connections that their pieces have to their culture,” says Fiona.

She also loves French poster maker, Bernard Villemot because of his simple, elegant lines and clever use of space and bold colours.

From classroom teacher to art teacher, Fiona very quickly discovered just how different the two roles are.

“I love working with students of all ages and from every class within the School. The girls always arrive at the Discovery Centre in a happy and joyous mood and this mood is only amplified during the lesson. Every day is different and quite often messy. It wouldn’t be a good day if I didn’t end up with paint on me.”

Fiona’s inspiration comes from everywhere – books, magazines, online, nature, galleries, television, fashion and life in general.

“Sometimes I’ll just come up with an idea, explain it to the students and we all just see where it goes and what happens. Creativity is about turning the ordinary into something extraordinary and you’re that bit closer to getting there if you just try,” she says.

We couldn’t agree more Fiona – so please don’t stop inspiring our Camberwell girls to be creative.

Interested in working at Camberwell Girls?

Keira Lyons

Inspiring Educator

Keira Lyons / Head of Drama & Performing Arts

To observe Keira working with her students is truly something special.

A graduate of the Monash University Arts School, multiple qualifications in education and an ongoing involvement in the performing arts industry, Keira joined Camberwell Girls in a part time capacity in 2007. Over the course of that year, the School discovered it had something special on its hands and Keira knew that she had found a professional and spiritual home. That part time teaching role quickly became a full time Head of Drama role and as they say, the rest is history.

For Keira, who puts her absolute heart and soul into teaching, it is highly important that she remains involved in the performing arts industry whilst working in education.

“I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other as they support each other. Education and theatre are important in the shaping of who we are as a society. I really believe that both are fundamental in the search for and creation of identity,” says Keira.

When it comes to her own experience in the performing arts world, there really isn’t anything that this all-rounder hasn’t done. With strengths in managing projects and people, she started out as a stage manager.

“I’ll never forget the time when I was managing a production of Fiddler on the Roof. It was opening night and our lead came down with laryngitis. I was the only one who knew her songs. Suddenly, I’m thrust on stage and become an actor.”

However, Keira believes there is an important message in this scenario. “People will want to ‘box’ you into a niche and they’re often uncomfortable if you don’t fit one box or if you suddenly swap boxes… ignore them.”

She went on to act with appearances in TV shows and short films. From here, she moved into directing and writing – mounting her own show at Gasworks and Theatre Works and later in the United Kingdom. She then became an artistic director and also worked with a children’s theatre company, where she was first introduced to her love of puppetry.

Teaching, marking, organising auditions, preparing for rehearsals, sourcing props, painting sets, sewing costumes, applying stage make-up, building sets, problem solving, rigging lights, testing sound and drawing the curtain back on opening night – when it comes to real-world educators, Keira ticks all of the boxes.

Next stop was overseas. “I wanted to pursue greater knowledge of myself and my limits. I trained in the UK, Spain and France and performed in an Improvisation Comedy Troupe in England and Ireland.”

Keira describes a successful audition with Polygot Theatre as a match made in heaven. She was lucky to perform and tour Singapore, Washington DC, New York, Orange County and Pittsburgh, as well as extensive national touring in the capacity of actor, puppeteer, stage manager, vision mixer, production manager and director.

“It’s a privilege to see and be a part of worlds being created. Collectively we imagine something and together we build it. Witnessing girls taking risks and supporting each other. There’s so much joy in my everyday,” says Keira.

As an educator, it is so important to Keira that her students understand and appreciate all of the skills that go into interpreting the text and presenting that interpretation to an audience.

“As theatre makers, there’s something very satisfying about building your own vision. I want the girls to take responsibility for the final product and understand that sometimes we have to go out and acquire new skills or make a new tool to get the job done,” she says.

A full time parent to Stuart, Sophia and Ollie, her three adopted cats, Keira still finds the time to keep herself actively involved in the performing arts.

She frequently works as a director for puppetry shows and she also toured with War Horse Australia as puppetry captain and performer. She is a freelance physical theatre trainer, employed by companies such as the National Theatre and The Women’s Circus to train their actors if particular skill sets are needed.

Interested in working at Camberwell Girls?

Shane Maycock

Inspiring Educator

Shane Maycock

We’ve implemented a very holistic program that commences as soon as students arrive at Junior School.

Shane Maycock is an adventure-seeking lover. He enjoys nothing more than being in the great outdoors which means his role as the School’s Education Outdoors Coordinator is just perfect. Shane completed a Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in Human Movement and Outdoor Education, followed by a Diploma of Education and then his Masters in School Leadership.

Seeing students interacting and enjoying the natural environment is what Shane loves most about his role. “When I completed my first degree I worked as an assistant at a remote school campus on King Island, Tasmania.
I became hooked on seeing students push themselves beyond their comfort zones and be rewarded by experiencing those light bulb moments,” says Shane with a smile.

However it was his love of learning, in particular experiential learning that attracted Shane to the education industry. Whilst his role may appear all ‘fun and games’, there is actually a lot that goes on behind the scenes to coordinate relevant and successful outdoor experiences for our girls.

“The role is extremely varied. I visit sites to source the most appropriate venue by conducting risk assessments and then I start to plan the logistics. At the end of the day, attending the actual camp is the icing on the cake,” says Shane.

Education Outdoors is vital and under Shane’s leadership the School has re-developed its entire program to offer students a more relevant, challenging and exciting experience. He collaborates with a team, including classroom teachers and Year Level Coordinators to develop an appropriate program that meets the desired curriculum.

We’ve implemented a very holistic program that commences as soon as students arrive at Junior School.

“Students’ skills will be developed as they progress through the year levels and we’ve looked at all experiences from year level camps and overseas study tours to our local and international exchanges,” says Shane.

Since joining Camberwell Girls in 2015, Shane has been on every single year level camp, as well as travelled to the United States on a Study Tour. This equates to 84 nights away so far but he says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I get to work with students of all year levels in a variety of settings outside the classroom and witness them develop valuable life skills. I certainly miss my family but I always ensure I make it up to them – even if it means waking up extra early each morning at camp, to walk 10 minutes away to find reception so that I can call home,” he says.

In his spare time, it won’t surprise you that Shane and his family all stay active and keep fit by participating in many sports both competitively and just for recreation. On weekends you can find them at the beach, in the bush, on a farm or exploring the city.
“I grew up playing outdoors, riding my bike, climbing trees, kicking a ball. I guess in many ways, I learnt by doing and that’s what I want our Camberwell girls to do. I want them to learn by doing rather than learn by reading. You have to touch and feel and smell – basically experience the great outdoors.”

Interested in working at Camberwell Girls?

Emma Hinchliffe

Inspiring Educator

Emma Hinchcliffe

Incorporating technology into the classroom allows for individual expression.

At a time of such rapid change and transformation in education, the School is extremely fortunate to have Emma Hinchliffe as part of our Teaching, Learning and Innovation Team. Emma who has been an educator at Camberwell Girls since 2010 is currently our Junior School Digital Learning Leader and also Year 3 teacher. To say that Emma thrives on technology is an understatement.

In many ways, technology is part of Emma’s DNA and she is currently on a mission to ensure that teachers are implementing the correct strategies and using a variety of technology in effective and efficient ways in their classrooms. “I want to see all of our students using technology to support them to chase their dreams and to bring their ideas to life. I’m really just encouraging our Ormiston girls to be completely empowered by the possibilities that using technology presents them with,” says Emma. Earlier this year Emma was awarded the W. E. McPherson Fellowship from the Invergowrie Foundation because of her innate ability to inspire young women. Emma is currently using her fellowship to complete her Master of Education, specialising in Digital Innovation and Knowledge Networks.

Emma admits that she’s always loved learning and using technology but says she’s never been particularly artistic. “I’m completely inspired when using technology, I guess it allows me to be more creative. I still clearly remember the first time I touched a Mac… I was in Grade One – it just set off a spark.”

As a teacher, Emma says she loves that you can capture authentic examples of student learning and share learning so quickly and easily. “Incorporating technology into the classroom really puts students in charge of their own learning and allows for individual expression,” Emma confirms. A firm believer in incorporating student voice into the curriculum and making learning as authentic as possible, there is no ‘typical’ day in Emma’s classroom. She purposely strives to ensure that each and everyday is completely different.

“My philosophy is that nothing is impossible. If I or any of my students have an idea – we just try it. You never know what’s possible until you have a go. Often, the best learning experiences come from embracing the unexpected,” she says. This approach to teaching and learning has seen Emma’s students participate in some extremely exciting lessons. What’s the trend in her classroom at the moment? “App Smashing,” says Emma. “My class are never happy using just one app to present their learning. They know that they can be more creative and achieve their goals more effectively by combining the features of a variety of apps.”

To complete just one task, Emma’s Year 3 girls might use iMovie to create a persuasive presentation while at the same time, they will use Pic Collage to design more engaging slides, include a Popplet to show their ideas are connected, take photos and videos of the topic using iCamera while editing them in iPhoto and create a musical track using Garage Band. Whilst no day is ever the same, there are certain elements that are always guaranteed in Emma’s classroom. “A day in my class always involves collaborating, creating, strength spotting, discussion, evaluating, lots of laughter, and of course… technology,” Emma says with a big smile. Emma – you’ve certainly found your calling!

Interested in working at Camberwell Girls?