CQUniversity Mackay trio recognised for a combined century of vocational teaching

15 December 2021

CQUniversity Mackay teachers Russell Gardner' Linda Nugent and Michael Wilson might share a combined 100 years of teaching experience between them' but they're all equally passionate about sharing that professional experience with their students.

The three were recently recognised at the 2021 CQUniversity Staff Service Awards' for their many decades as vocational teachers in the Mackay region' alongside dozens of other staff from across the University's national campus footprint.

Russell' who is a Fitness teacher at CQUni Mackay's City Campus' was recognised for his 45 years of service' while his colleague Linda' was recognised for her 20 years' teaching Fitness.

"Lasting the 45 years is probably an achievement. Even though I have been teaching for all those years' there have been plenty of changes that have provided a lot of variety'" Russell said.

"I started as a PE teacher then moved across to TAFE delivery for Coaching accreditation and the very early Fitness qualifications (Fitness Leaders).

"I wasn't good enough in anything to be a professional sportsperson so PE teaching was probably the closest option. But I was involved in coaching at an early age and always enjoyed teaching so it was not a hard choice. Still love the opportunity to teach."

Russell said there had been "enormous changes" in the fitness industry.

"Whereas 40 years ago we may have had three or four major gyms in a town' there may be 80 to 100 facilities with the growth of the small studio businesses'" he said.

"The health stats don't reflect anything positive in community health' so although the marketing of the industry is high profile' general health is not improving and participation in exercise is a component of that. No doubt the opportunities for participation are there but are not being utilised. I think it is a major concern with our younger generation and where we will be in 20 years."

He said while there were simply too many years and students to count over the past 45 years' he was proud to have taught all of them.

"I enjoy helping a student achieve' especially someone who struggles to get there – that's probably the most satisfying part of the job'" he said.

Linda said she loved her job' especially meeting new people and working with her "amazing" colleagues.

"I am like a proud Mum when one of my students completes their studies and receives their certificate' particularly the ones who struggle a little and have to work a little harder to achieve their goals'" she said.

"I also love seeing them take what they have learned and use it to obtain employment in an industry that can be very demanding but also very rewarding."

She said the fitness industry had seen a lot of change' but people were still keen to stay fit.

"Many jobs are sedentary' so it has become more important for our health to seek out some sort of physical activity during leisure time'" she said.

She added that her working relationship with Russell was what made the Fitness courses a pleasure to teach.

"We are of a similar age group and have a similar passion for both teaching and wanting to help others succeed. We think the same way' have similar strategies to deal with issues and are specific and detailed with paperwork'" she said.

Michael was acknowledged for his 35 years as a Plumbing and Construction teacher.

"The main enjoyment I get is from watching the apprentices grow – going from someone very green and transitioning into a qualified professional tradesperson and continuing their development into leading roles within the industry and the community'" Michael said.

"Especially the ones who have developed very successful businesses and you see the values and principles you embedded years ago being put in place and being passed down to the next generations of apprentices.

"I became a plumber because it was one of a number of apprenticeships offered to me after sitting a formal apprentice entry test' back in the day. My uncle ran his own Plumbing business at the time and I had done some work with him while growing up and I could relate to Plumbing as a well-recognised trade that had a large variety in its scope of work.

"I moved into teaching when I received a bursary to do Manual Arts teaching in school and moved into TAFE teaching after being approached by one of my TAFE teachers about a job that was going.

"The Plumbing industry is continually evolving with changes to laws' standards' codes and new products and combining that with adapting to the generational changes seen in apprentices' life over the years has been kept very interesting."