All the best Mr Mac!

CCGS staff Jim McAtamney

You’ve been at CCGS since 1986, that’s almost the very beginning of the School’s history. In your opinion what has changed the most in teaching and what remains the same?

When I started in 1986 it was the start of a fledgling school. There were two staff in the PE department - Bob Lloyd and myself. Who would have thought I’d still be here in 2021, 35 years and over half my life later! In the early years, we were charged with the task of developing what were to be the traditions, policies and procedures that would be the foundations for the school we have today. Traditions like House Family, K-12 carnivals, and staff K-12 all operating together, knowing each other and their families. In the early days, our major carnivals were always K-12. Swimming at Gosford Olympic pool, Cross Country at Paul Oval and Athletics at Adcock Park. They were great days and the school community was really behind us.

I vividly remember the endless staff meetings in the early days. We would discuss every student at the school. As specialist teachers we taught all classes and saw the students grow through infants, prep and senior school, building great relationships over many years. As the school has grown, this partnership between teacher and   student has remained the basis for successful academic, social and emotional growth.

Another significant milestone for the PDHPE department was the addition of the RLC sports hall and later the synthetic multi-purpose sports field. The school community raised funds for these facilities and that was a real highlight. I am now teaching the children of the students from those early days.

I consider myself the luckiest person in the world to have worked with CCGS staff for 35 years. It’s been an honour and a privilege to have worked with such a talented and professional group of teachers over the years.

What has been the highlight of your CCGS days?

It is very hard to suggest only one highlight. Having our 3 children, Jacob, Daniel and Anna Clare, attend the school indirectly gave me the opportunity to become involved in all aspects of school life.

Teaching in our breath-taking grounds has been a real pleasure and I have particularly enjoyed the seasonal changes around the grounds. The first leaves to change colour, the smell of privet, the afternoon northeast wind, the freshly mowed grass on Rugby 1, the spotless play area, the lovely manicured gardens and even the occasional flood!

And finally, the privilege of working with so many magnificent teachers. The day-to-day banter and camaraderie has provided me with so much fun and motivation.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from your students?

Every student is different. It is easy to pick the student who absolutely loves PE, it is the highlight of their week, while other students tolerate the subject but like the teacher. My job is to tap into all students and find what excites them. When the students see that you have a genuine interest in them this helps break down some of the barriers.

What do you think are the most important skills students learn from School today and why?

There are many opportunities under the one roof for CCGS students. Students should become involved in all aspects of school life. As far as PDHPE is concerned we don’t set out to send students to the Olympics. If a student can leave our school with the skills and attitudes that enable them to be physically and mentally healthy then we have given them a good start in life which will be with them forever. Then it’s up to them.

CCGS staff Jim McAtamney with students

What advice do you have for new teachers?

Get to know your students. I still make a point of selecting one student from each class to have an in-depth chat with each lesson, to try to learn something about them. Over the weeks, months and years a solid and trusting relationship can be built with the majority of students.

Not every day is going to be sunshine and roses, some lessons are going to seem like failures. The only lesson that is a failure is the one you don’t learn from.

Where possible, watch and learn from other teachers, eventually you will develop your own style. Having a good mentor that you can call on from time to time is essential. My first mentor was Bob Lloyd. Bob was the original sports Master, a larger-than-life personality with a zest for life and a genuine passion for the students. I’m sure some of his enthusiasm has rubbed off.

What will you miss most about CCGS?

Naturally I will miss the day-to-day life of CCGS. The banter with the staff and student,  the beautiful environment, calling in on the grounds staff for a chat, or breezing through the office to touch base with the magnificent office ladies behind the scenes.  We have a very successful Junior school sport program, one that I am very proud of and our program wouldn’t have been as successful without the admin and grounds support staff.

What does the ‘next chapter’ hold for you?

Who knows what is around the corner? The last 12 months have been very different. Who would have thought I would conclude my teaching career, with a worldwide pandemic! Next year every day will be productive. Family, health, fitness and friends have always been important parts of my life, nothing will change. There will be a huge gap to fill post-CCGS, but I won’t be short of things to do!

Watch Mr McAtamney's special message for Junior School students.