The power of strong educational foundations

A few years ago, Vivienne Crompton (OM 2005) walked away from a promising career in law to pursue secondary school teaching, and she hasn’t looked back since.

“I always had the desire to be a teacher, even as a teenager, but it remained in the background,” she explains. “I wasn’t really enjoying my legal work, and decided to turn to a path I had been guided away from by others. It was absolutely the right decision for me.”

Now a teacher of VCE History, VCE Australian and Global Politics, and English, Vivienne believes that the role is about far more than just imparting knowledge. “It is so important to teach students how to think for themselves,” says Vivienne. “Students must learn how to stand up for themselves, and to be able to state their opinion in a constructive way.”

Vivienne says that, in her case, these foundations were instilled at Grimwade House, where she gained confidence in her ability to tackle the challenges before her. “Grimwade House teaches you to believe in something and work hard for it,” she remembers. “It’s where I learned grit and resilience – to stand up and be counted, problem solve, and get on and deal with things.” 

“We often talk about future-proofing through education. 2020 has proven that no one can predict what will happen in times to come,” adds Vivienne.

“I think we need to lay the educational groundwork which enables students to withstand anything the world throws at them.” 

“As teachers, we’ve had to go above and beyond this year because our students’ usual support mechanisms were somewhat stripped away,” she explains. “When teaching online this year, my school only allowed us to speak with students. I couldn’t see them. When we were covering confronting topics in class, I had to do a lot of follow-up during and after my classes to check they were all okay.”

In 2015, Vivienne was approached to join the Old Melburnians Council, making her one of the younger members of the group. In this role, she helped develop strategic plans and engagement strategies, and acted as an advocate for involvement in the Old Melburnian community.

Her message to other Old Melburnians is a simple one: “Turn up to have your voice heard.” 

“You get out of things what you put in, and I know so many people who get so much out of continuing to be involved with the Old Melburnians,” says Vivienne.

“It doesn’t matter how long you went to Melbourne Grammar, or which campus you attended. You are still part of our Grammar community,” she says. “I find it strange that some Old Melburnians question my role on the Council, but the fact is that, as a community, we don’t put arbitrary measurements on who belongs. If you’ve worn the uniform for one year or thirteen, you are an Old Melburnian.”

 “I have remained great friends with some Grimwade House classmates to this day. Some people do have an apprehension about touching base with their old school and attending reunions, but they shouldn’t,” says Vivienne. “You will always be welcome at Melbourne Grammar.”

Having made herself available to her students so much this year, Vivienne has stepped aside from her Council role for the moment. “I had to do the right thing by my students, but I stepped aside with a very heavy heart and I’d love to come back,” she says. 

“Melbourne Grammar knows that no school can rest on its laurels and that we must maintain our connections with our alumni,” Vivienne adds. “I’d encourage all Old Melburnians, especially our younger alumni, to speak up about what they want from this community.”