Life beyond Radford

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Last updated 13.06.2018

Ailsa Mackerras

Class of 1997
OCCUPATION English teacher
Lives Higgins, Australia
Attendance at radford Years 7-12
House Jarrah
Work history
  • Assistant Head of English, Radford College, 2016-Present
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What does life look for you now?

I moved back to Canberra with my young family a few years ago after living in Sydney for about 12 years. I have a 7 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. Living in Canberra has given us so much time back so whilst work is always busy, we have lots of time together as a family. I'm working here at Radford as Assistant Head of English.

Tell us what you are passionate about?

I've always been one to constantly try new things and find it difficult to settle on hobbies. I love going on outings with my family, visiting cafes and traveling when I have the time.

When you were young, what were you hoping to be when you grew up?

I think I always knew I wanted to be a teacher but for some reason it took a while to admit that to myself!

What is your favourite Radford moment?

I have so many memories of laughing with friends. I still remember a year 11 English class with Mr Rose in which a friend and I, who shall remain nameless, just couldn't stop laughing about something completely banal.

Do you have a particular role model or inspirational figure from Radford or now?

I had some incredible teachers. I still remember some of Mr H's inspirational talks when we were in year 10. I loved Mr Rose's English lessons, Mrs Rasmussen's passion, Mr Craddock's infectious enthusiasm and Mr Foulcher's was with words. They all inspired me.

How easy was it to decide what to do in life?

Not too hard once I started to actually to listen to my heart. I did dabble in other studies. I tried a Law degree but didn't have the will to continue after first year. I tried my hand at a journalism degree. But in the end I just loved studying history and English. After I finished the degree I travelled and worked before I went to Sydney to do my Dip Ed, which I loved. So in the end, it was about following my instincts.

Did your further study or career go exactly as you'd planned?

After finishing my Dip Ed I decided to apply for a job at a school in Sydney, Barker College. I got the job there and absolutely loved it. I learnt so much there and was surrounded by the most incredible colleagues. So that all went to plan. A few years ago though, with two small children, my husband and I decided to move to Canberra. He's from Sydney originally but it was his idea to move here. That was never part of the plan but I'm so happy we made the move. Life is so much easier here and Radford has provided me with so many great career opportunities, from acting as head of department to helping to introduce the International Baccalaureate which is incredibly exciting.

What do you know now, that you wish you'd known when you were at Radford?

I think it's so important to listen to your heart and follow your instincts.

What advice do you have for current students?

Don't worry too much about what other people are doing. Make your own decisions and be brave. Remember that you can change your path if it doesn't work out.

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