Why we lead, with Stephen Cox

Three minutes
Teach For Australia Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

We chatted to Teach To Lead Alumni Stephen Cox from Cohort 2017 about his time in the program and his leadership journey to date. Here’s what he had to say.

Stephen Cox caught his passion for teaching off his year 7 teacher and has spent the past 20 years honing his craft.

He credits working with our future generations and in a variety of roles and settings with keeping his spark.

He is currently Assistant Principal at Woady Yaloak Primary School in Victoria.

How many years have you been a teacher and what has made you remain in teaching, especially in a low SES school, versus working in another educational field or sector?

I have been teaching for just over 20 years and recently gained a promotion to Assistant Principal.  I love having an impact on students and leaving them with experiences that will support them at that moment in time, as well as hopefully into the future. I really care about our students, families and staff.

What keeps me working in the area are mainly the little things…the tap on my office window and a wave, the ex-students coming to visit, and listening to parents and families thank us for the work we are doing.  All students deserve the best and that’s what I aim to offer them.

What did being part of the Teach To Lead (TTL) program help you achieve?

The TTL program allowed me an opportunity to work with like-minded and dedicated colleagues. The ability to share experiences, offer advice and explore the range of directions other Fellows in the program were pursuing offered a great insight to our profession and the collective challenges we face as school leaders.

The Impact Initiatives in my cohort were so broad and the techniques employed by other Fellows offered a first-hand look into their commitment, creative use of data and the importance of strategically planning actions. The program empowered me to expand my skills, offered affirmation of techniques I was already using and covered a wide range of processes that we need in our daily work.

How has building your leadership capacity through TTL benefited your students and your school community?

The benefit to my students and community is my additional ability to identify areas of need and use techniques to address these needs. The program enhanced my communication skills and I use these daily when working with such diverse groups of students and members of our school community.

TTL covered such a huge range of areas relevant to my role and my constant reflection of program sessions and content has me well prepared for many situations that arise.

How do you manage your work / life balance?

I’m pretty good at switching off.  I use my daily commute to think about setting up and planning my day and then it lets me unwind on the way home.  I enjoy being outside with my dogs or exercising. These things take me away from technology and allow me to focus on other things I enjoy.

Getting to my weekly AFL game is also a great outlet – when I’m there I’m not Mr Cox…I’m just another mad Collingwood supporter!

Anything else you’d like to share?

The colleagues you meet through TTL are the best part!  The laughs and camaraderie offer support, excitement and a shared vision for our role.

Do your best for the students all the time! You don’t need to ask that or see that, you just feel it!

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