On 14 June, the New South Wales Government announced an injection of $5.8 billion into the childcare sector over the next 10 years. This boost comes as a response to the statewide shortage of early childhood educators, as well as to build a sustainable pipeline of early childhood educators and teachers for tomorrow (New South Wales Liberal, 2022).
The importance of early childhood education has been found to not only help develop strong educational foundations in children, but also identify any health and development issues that might make learning difficult for students when they begin school (Baker, 2022). This play-based learning can have a positive correlation on vocabulary development, reasoning, and early numeracy skills development (Raper, 2022).
Currently 339,015 children aged four to five are enrolled in a preschool program, an increase of 1.3 percent on last year’s figures, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (2022). The majority of children aged four to five only attend preschool two days a week (Australia Bureau of Statistics, 2022) but from 2030, they will be able to access five days of childcare free of charge. Under this universal system of pre-kindergarten, children will be able to experience a full year of play-based learning before their first year of school (Raper, 2022). Additionally, more childcare centres will be built in ‘childcare deserts’ across suburban, regional and rural New South Wales where demand outweighs supply. Approximately nine million Australians or 35 per cent of the population live in neighborhoods that are classified as a childcare desert (Mitchell Institute, 2022).
The state government is also rolling out the ‘Perrottet package’, led by New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, which will give Australian domestic students and permanent residents early childhood teacher higher education scholarships of up to $25,000 towards their degrees (New South Wales Liberal, 2022). This will form part of the 2022/2023 NSW Budget that is setting aside a $281.6 million workforce package (New South Wales Liberal, 2022). So why would students want to study their Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Birth to 5) at Excelsia College? While experiencing intimate class sizes, and learning from passionate teachers with years of experience both in the classroom and designing pedagogy, our students get hands-on training and can form industry connections before they’ve competed their studies. Over their four years of study, Excelsia College students will undertake over 80 days of practicum experience and be confident to step foot in the classroom as a well-qualified early childhood teacher upon graduating.
So if you want to enter an industry that is continuing to grow in demand, why not consider Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Birth to 5)? You will join at a time that the New South Wales Government supports the early childhood education and care workforce, as well as help future News South Wales children, families and the economy.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2022). Preschool Education, Australia. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/education/preschool-education-australia/latest-release
Baker, J. (2022, June 16). ‘A game-changer’: NSW to introduce an extra year of education. Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/a-game-changer-nsw-to-introduce-an-extra-year-of-education-20220615-p5au02.html
Mitchell Institute. (2022). Childcare Deserts & Oases: How accessible is childcare in Australia? https://www.vu.edu.au/mitchell-institute/early-learning/childcare-deserts-oases-how-accessible-is-childcare-in-australia
New South Wales Liberal. (2022). Supercharging the early childhood workforce and sector. https://nswliberal.org.au/Shared-Content/News/2022/Supercharging-the-early-childhood-workforce-and-sector
Raper, A. (2022, June 16). NSW and Victorian governments plan new free year of preschool schooling within a decade. ABC News. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-16/nsw-victoria-plan-for-new-preschool-year-education/101155350?fbclid=IwAR3ND1tp_zPXJrvJ5vHFs_DGVXEAyqxu1z0ERWqEVELAEL-HKld62QCQ5Ss
In an article in The Conversation (McArthur et al., 2021), factors such as ‘strict stay-at-home orders, repeated opening and closures of schools, social distancing from peers and other supports, limited or no access to sport and extracurricular activities, and many missed milestones such as graduation’ have all been cited as having a detrimental effect on youth mental health due to COVID-19. Dion Khlentzos, Senior Lecturer in Counselling at Excelsia College shares his thoughts about this concerning issue and the role that counsellors can play in a child’s life.
‘Young people in Australia have had it tough over the last two years. A press release from Camp Australia (2022) has documented the alarming rise in youth mental health problems since the start of the pandemic, with parents and school principals indicating their concerns about their children’s mental and physical health during this time. Particular concern was expressed by parents in the states with the longest lockdowns: Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT. Children and teens have had much less opportunity than previously to experience the joy of connecting with other young people over these last couple of years.
In some cases, professional help may be required to help improve a young person’s mental health. In these cases, the parents may choose to seek counselling for their children. Counsellors can work with the parents, the child, or the whole family to make a well-rounded assessment of the young person’s mental health and overall functioning, followed by some counselling sessions to help provide awareness of the specific issues that may be hindering the young person’s healthy functioning,’ Dr Khlentzos explains.
If you are interested in being trained as a counsellor within a Christian world view, Excelsia College’s Master of Counselling course covers a wide range of issues relevant to working with people of all ages. Subjects include Counselling Theories and Models; Approaches to Mental Health; Relational Dynamics; Trauma, Grief and Loss; Group Process: Theory and Practice; Development and Diversity; and other relevant areas, including elective units such as Introduction to Counselling Children and Young People and Introduction to Family Systems and Couples. The Master of Counselling is accredited by the major national counselling bodies PACFA and ACA and gives students the opportunity to put their skills into practice through one of our counselling placements.
Camp Australia. (2022, March 22). Supporting children’s wellbeing critical to safeguard the next generation’s mental health. Camp Australia. campaustralia.com.au/blog/supporting-children-s-wellbeing-critical-to-safeguard-the-next-generation-s-mental-health
McArthur, B. A., Racine, N., & Madigan, S. (2021, August 10). Child and youth mental health problems have doubled during COVID-19. The Conversation. theconversation.com/child-and-youth-mental-health-problems-have-doubled-during-covid-19-162750
Malcolm Frawley is a drama lecturer and has been with Excelsia College since 2014. He brings over 35 years of professional experience, with a background in teaching and producing plays across Australia. Frawley’s latest play Lawfully Short was written for first-year Excelsia College Bachelor of Dramatic Art students. The play explores themes like neuro and racial diversity, stereotyping, typecasting and the life purposes of the group of students. We asked Frawley about his creative process whenever he puts a new show together and how working and getting to know the students helps him to craft the play.
Frawley explains, ‘I have now created three short programs in a row for Excelsia. In 2020, I was pretty sure that, no matter who they were, the students’ families would probably have no idea what the student did at an acting school, and no real idea of the type of life they were considering. So I decided to explain it to them in Dramatically Short. I devised three new short (30–35 min) plays that focus on different aspects of the performing arts – writing, directing, and acting.
‘I had worked with my likely 2021 cast in 2020, so for my second Shorts program I consulted with the group and discussed possible themes or issues we might like to explore. I also asked each of them to define, in one phrase or even one word, the type of role that they would like to have a shot at – romantic, powerful, vulnerable, deceitful etc. I then put together several much shorter plays. To keep it consistent, I had one character from each play appear in the following play. Roles incorporating their chosen phrase or word were delivered to every member of the cast. During the time I was putting it together, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame appeared in the media spotlight so I felt that the time was right to explore the treatment of women in modern Australia.
‘This year, I started with an eight-minute play I had produced years before, a send-up of the “Previously On” section of many television dramas. It was set in a law firm soap opera, hence the title Lawfully Short. This time, I did not consult the cast about roles they might like to play, but I wrote specifically for each of them as I began adding 20 more short plays – this time very short, the longest was 8 minutes – alternating between scenes from the soap opera (Harbour City Solicitors) and scenes in which the actors who play the characters appear in their “real” lives. I also explored character traits of the actors and through collaboration utilised those in the plays and made them aspects of the play.’
When asked what makes Excelsia College productions unique to other creative and performing arts institutions, Frawley explains, ‘Although I have written and directed plays for several other acting schools over the years, Excelsia provides me with the option of thinking bigger, of how I might envisage staging my productions. While the performance space is huge, its shape and even size can be altered depending on the nature of the production. Because of the school’s multiskills training format, it also provides me with students who are learning stage management, design, costumes and prop making under the guidance of experts. The production team can be filled out by individual students who take on those roles. This provides me with a back-up that is not available at other schools.’
If you are inspired by Frawley’s passion and want to learn drama from our outstanding academic staff, why not explore our School of Creative and Performing Arts?
During lockdown in 2021, Excelsia’s Bachelor of Dramatic Art students had the unique opportunity to collaborate with video artist Michaela Bartonova for their modern retelling of Macbeth.
Bartonova, who is based in the Czech Republic, and Director Fiona Gentle had previously worked together in Australia, and Director Gentle invited her to design a series of projected, animated sets for this production. Bartonova is an incredibly talented and versatile artist who has performed and exhibited throughout Europe and Scandinavia. The Czech Republic has a long history of puppetry and Bartonova started out as a puppet-maker and theatre-maker but is also a playwright, author, director, and visual/digital artist, developing the technique of creating digital sets live on stage, via her iPad.
During lockdown, Director Gentle and production students worked with Bartonova via Zoom, sharing ideas and concepts, and solving the daunting task of designing a show from across the world. She also took them on a virtual tour of her studio, showing them her artwork and puppets, and the Czech landscape outside her window. Bartonova attended Zoom rehearsals and even wished the students well on the opening night of Macbeth via video!
The show was a resounding success, and the projected images and animations created an incredible atmosphere and powerful allusions to the themes in Macbeth. Students had the opportunity to be part of an international collaboration and experience working with a respected and accomplished artist, and all have an open invitation to visit Bartonova in her home in the Czech Republic. Details and photos of the production can be viewed on the artist’s portfolio here, which has already received over 9,000 views across the world!
If you want to join Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Dramatic Art and be a part of cutting-edge productions, please enquire with us today.
Excelsia College and Sydney Film School are proud to have a talented calibre of staff helping to train film professionals in producing, directing, writing, cinematography, sound, editing, design, and business through its Bachelor of Screen Production. If you happened to watch The Beatles: Get Back documentary series on Disney Plus, you may have recognised a familiar face, Les Parrott. The Sydney Film School lecturer once worked as a camera operator in London in 1969! It was this three-week experience which Parrott marked as ‘just another gig’ when he was summoned to Twickenham Studios and Apple Corps that would end up being the Beatles’ last collaboration together (Sydney Film School, 2021), before disbanding in 1970 (Westbrook, 2021).
Upon reflection of this experience filming the ‘greatest band of all time’, Les explains, ‘Fifty-two years later there is still this unbelievable interest. At the time I didn’t realise I was involving myself in history; it was a gig, it was a job … It’s special and it can’t be repeated so it’s something that I’ll take with me’ (60 Minutes, 2021).
Peter Jackson, world-famous Lord of the Rings director, released the documentary on 25 November 2021, after canvassing over 60 hours of completely unseen footage of the Beatles that had been put in a vault for half a century (Sydney Film School, 2021). The final product is a documentary series spread across three episodes, each two to three hours running time. Parrott filmed the fab four – consisting of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison – as they recorded their Grammy-winning album Let It Be (Sydney Film School, 2021).
It is this wealth of experience, knowledge, and encouragement that Parrott imparts to the next generation of students at Sydney Film School as he lectures in the camera and cinematography departments. Apart from his rare experience filming the Beatles, Parrott has worked in film and television productions including Julius Caesar starring John Gielgud and Charlton Heston, You Can’t Win ’Em All starring Tony Curtis and Charles Bronson, Madame Sin starring Bette Davis and Robert Wagner, and sci-fi puppet classic Thunderbirds (Sydney Film School, 2021).
Channel 9 program 60 Minutes Australia visited Sydney Film School to find out about Les’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the Beatles. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the docuseries yet, check out the links below:
Les Parrott featured at 1min10sec – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSrCk1icisI
“SUNDAY on #60Mins | Going Back” – https://www.facebook.com/60Minutes9/videos/285579016812325
Did you know Sydney Film School is ranked as one of Variety Magazine’s (Saval et al., 2020) leading international film schools? If you are interested in learning from industry veterans such as Les, why not explore Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Screen Production? https://excelsia.edu.au/study/creative-and-performing-arts/bachelor-of-screen-production/
About Excelsia College:
Excelsia College, located in Sydney, Australia, has a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. We are a community made up of passionate educators who want to walk alongside students on their individual, unique journey.
Saval, M., Clement, N., Gottlieb, A., Gilchrist, T., & Gaita, P. (2020). Entertainment education impact report: The top film schools and educators from around the globe. Variety Magazine. https://variety.com/2020/biz/spotlight/entertainment-education-impact-report-film-schools-globe-1234580557/
Sydney Film School (2021, November 19). Sydney Film School’s Les Parrott, Beatles cameraman, on 60 Minutes [Press Release].
Westbrook, C. (2021). When did the Beatles break up and who left first? Metro News. https://metro.co.uk/2021/11/25/when-did-the-beatles-break-up-and-who-left-first-15663564/
60 Minutes (2021). Aussie cameraman reveals what The Beatles were like in never-before-seen footage. 9 Now. https://9now.nine.com.au/60-minutes/aussie-cameraman-reveals-what-the-beatles-were-like-in-neverbeforeseen-footage/0c5c36b1-e26a-40e4-bb95-c9006764cdbc
60 Minutes Australia. (2021, November 18). SNEAK PEEK: Going Back, 60 Minutes Australia [Video file]. Youtube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3fufUESXps&ab_channel=60MinutesAustralia
Did you know there’s a global day set aside to thank administrative staff? Just as teachers and academics are recognised for their skill sets, so too are our administrative professionals who play an essential role in helping our College to operate effectively. This Friday 6 May is National Administrative Professionals Day!
In light of this day, Excelsia College wants to thank all of our administrative staff who work behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the College. We might not always see them around, but we wouldn’t be the same without their help.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals defines administrative professionals as ‘an extension of the executive team as tasks become more automated and admins are more efficient than ever. Admins are business partners to the executive, executives, departments, and companies they support’ (International Association of Administrative Professionals, n.d.).
Our administrative staff do so much in helping students and our academic community within our five different schools (education, counselling, social work, business and creative and performing arts). From creating classes on Excelsia’s online student portal ExO, to answering student queries, to helping lecturers and assisting with moderation, our administrative staff help to create a better learning experience for all our students, and to align the College to the Higher Education Standards Framework (HESF). This team includes Kathryn Honor, Nermine Morcos, Kim Rodgers, Zoe Sadler, Joanna Swadling, Kathy Brunker, Jo Jun, Jennifer Khoo and Gail Ecob.
A few of these lovely ladies have shared what they enjoy most about their roles:
Gail Ecob – ‘I love being part of a team that not only teaches the values and qualities of social work, but also models them as well. To work with a team that supports and encourages you each day.’
Kathy Brunker – ‘The two things I enjoy most about my role are the lovely staff that I work with and the variety in the work that I perform.’
Kim Rodgers – ‘I love to solve problems and help our team shine!’
Nermine Morcos – ‘What I enjoy most about my job is the challenge to hold everything together and keep things running smoothly in a timely manner.’
Excelsia College is so glad that you are here and thank you for all that you do in helping the College to run smoothly!
International Association of Administrative Professionals. (n.d.). About the profession. https://www.iaap-hq.org/page/about_profession#whatis
Prospective students wanting to find out more about studying an undergraduate degree at Excelsia are invited to our virtual open day this Saturday 30 April!
Potential students will find out what life is like as a student, hear presentations on our music, creative and performing arts courses, including our Bachelor of Dramatic Art and Bachelor of Screen Production, and even get to enjoy a Student Drama Showcase! The day will also include general course overview information, exclusive interviews with our heads of school and time to have any of your questions answered during our live Q&A sessions.
Peter McKeon, Excelsia’s CEO explains, ‘Our virtual open day will provide prospective students with all the information they would receive at an event held on campus, but in the comfort of their own home. They will be able to find out what it is like to study at Excelsia and further details on the Bachelor of Dramatic Art, Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Screen Production.
We are making the event as interactive as possible to ensure potential students are able to get all the information they need to make informed decisions about their next steps.’
Kathryn Honor has been working at Excelsia College for just over two years. With her warm personality and love for woodcarving and creating things from the heart (she literally designed, carved, and finished a heart-shaped pouring bowl!) there’s no doubt she is worthy of being our latest Excellent Personality. When Kathryn isn’t working as the Administrative Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer, she is busy tackling her latest creative challenge, whether that be with a paintbrush, needle and thread, carving knife/gouge or power tool!
Kathryn is also very community-centric. She helps to keep her church safe as a safe ministry representative, and she is involved in a range of community groups including as vice president of Epping Creative Centre Incorporated (a centre that offers a meeting place for over 40 different community groups), as a committee member at the Sydney Woodcarver Group Incorporated and in a number of volunteer positions at Girl Guides – from cook to cleaner, to assisting with craft and outdoor activities. On top of that, she is mum to young adult twin daughters and likes encouraging them to flex their creative muscles through textiles, painting, other craft activities and a love for activities in the great outdoors.
Something God has taught Kathryn throughout her time at Excelsia is the continuing theme of being a part of God’s family. ‘We are all a Christian diverse family even though we come from all different lands and worship via different service providers. God’s love and commitment to us is what keeps us going. We can all share in worship, prayer, and devotion to our God together,’ Kathryn explains. ‘The Excelsia community is vibrant, dramatic, multicultural and a God-loving family.’
As for what has surprised Kathryn about Excelsia, she explains, ‘Having been in single denominational or specific specialised settings in my last couple of jobs, I have really enjoyed learning and being exposed to other religions and cultures, whether sharing food, stories or opinions! This has broadened my world view.’
At Excelsia, team members are encouraged to reflect on ways they can grow and improve within their role, culminating in their Stretch Goals. In reflecting on her 2021 goals, Kathryn explains, ‘There was the statement, ‘I haven’t learned that YET?’ This is my new mantra – I haven’t done/learned/achieved that YET, instead of I can’t do that or don’t know how to do that! It opens your mind to a whole lot of exciting possibilities and challenges.’
Over the Christmas break, Kathryn attended a residential woodcarving course by master carver Hape Kiddle. Kathryn was guided through the process of carving an organic seed-inspired form from conceptual design through to a finished piece. ‘I started with a heart-shaped seed and through the process, the piece “Pouring the Love” evolved. This piece is very tactile and fits into your palms. It is designed to pour from the heart; you can share the love from this piece! It is a bowl to be given and to be felt, and it is representative of giving/sharing of the love/heart.’
All of Kathryn’s pieces reflect on the Bible and her ‘Pouring the Love’ bowl definitely fits the sharing of love and her favourite New Testament verse John 13:34–35: ‘A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
Kathryn explains, ‘I have a creative and practical approach to life, and I am really blessed with my hands. Hence, I love any form of art and craft, DIY project, cooking etc. I believe that as people, we should see ourselves as creative, as our God, who shaped us, is the most creative being! I love to zone out when creating! It’s my happy, yet reflective place,’ says Kathryn.
Excelsia College is blessed to have such a diverse range of staff who are showcasing their God-given gifts. We can’t wait to see what other creations Kathryn comes up with and are so pleased she’s with us at Excelsia College.
If you are interested in joining the team at Excelsia, why not apply with us today?
For Joy Chayna, finding a college or university that was community-focused and backed by strong Christian values was very important to her when deciding on where to study. After finishing her New South Wales Higher School Certificate (HSC) in 2016, Joy didn’t have her heart set on a particular course. ‘I was never the person who knew what I wanted to do post-school,’ Joy explains. One thing was certain though, music was in her blood. Growing up with a musical mother, both Joy and her brother were enrolled in piano lessons from a young age. Later, as a teenager, Joy was involved in school bands, jazz improvisation, and various ensembles at the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music. ‘Those were my extracurricular activities and I thought that was the natural pathway because that was my thing.’ Sadly, Joy’s mother passed away when she was in Year 11 but her death was the catalyst for Joy deciding to carry on her mother’s love for music and all the hard work her mother had invested in her.
Joy also didn’t have her heart set on a particular place of study. ‘I was weighing up whether to attend my local uni, the University of Wollongong, to study a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Music or audition for the Australian Institute of Music (AIM) or The Conservatorium of Music (both located in Sydney).’ In 2016, after attending an Excelsia College open day, Joy found what she was looking for. ‘I noticed that everyone was so nice and seemed to know one another and it was a homely environment. Community is my big thing, and I love people and intentionality, so seeing a college that stands for that is something I wanted to be a part of. That was my process of thinking around Excelsia.’
After successfully being accepted into a Bachelor of Music (Classical piano), Joy decided to defer to do a gap year with Morling College. ‘I wanted to be a year older and have a bit more maturity before I came to Excelsia,’ Joy explains. In 2018, Joy joined the Excelsia community and cemented her Christian faith in the process. ‘I’ve always been part of a really strong Christian family and grew up in a very protective and sheltered Christian bubble.’ Excelsia played a key role in contributing to Joy’s personal faith. ‘Moving out of home as an 18-year-old, I found meeting new people at Excelsia was really formative for me in being more concrete in my values and for standing up for what I believe in … Excelsia really helped me to form my identity and was a safe space to express my values … The lecturers were always up for a chat.’
During her studies, Joy was also working part-time at a music school where she taught piano. With her years of experience performing to crowds, it’s a surprise to hear that performance anxiety plagued Joy, stripping her of completely enjoying music. Thankfully, Excelsia was able to help Joy overcome these anxieties. ‘I had performance anxiety and it was very debilitating, I wouldn’t be able to move. But I had a really nurturing piano teacher who was relational, so we almost had mini counselling sessions in our lessons. It was really helpful to understand how deeply music is not just a physical thing where I play; it’s an emotional thing as well.’ The performance degree also allowed Joy to discover who she was as a person. ‘When you’re forced to work in group situations to do assessments and encouraged to come to different events, you’re constantly being forced out of your comfort zone. It’s almost like you can’t feel isolated going to the College because you’re surrounded by community and events.’
Excelsia’s creative and performing arts programs expose students to a variety of front of house roles, as well as behind-the-scenes work. ‘Because of its size, Excelsia enables you to do things in a way that a big college couldn’t do. Because you’re known by everyone, you can get involved in more unique ways,’ Joy explains. ‘We got to be stage manager one week or pack down equipment another week and I feel like these tasks encouraged a sense of ownership. You get to do every job at least once, so it gives you a taste of it all.’ Joy also had a strong work ethic instilled in her from the teaching staff. ‘The lecturers went above and beyond. I think they really encouraged a system of “this is your responsibility, and we won’t baby you”. They treated us like adults and taught us good life lessons on learning to be responsible for ourselves. It was a balance of tough love but a really kind way of doing it.’
For Joy, the live performances were a highlight of her time at Excelsia. ‘The music students got to perform in classical concerts where we would dress up in fully Shakespearean costume; it was the best thing in the world for the classical buffs! I remember we got to do a porch concert on our teacher’s terrace in Newtown to random people in the street and gigs in Marrickville at cool bars. Those experiences really shaped my time at Excelsia. The campus was also a warm and inviting environment and I honestly just really enjoyed being in the student lounge space and hanging out with people,’ Joy explains.
Since finishing at Excelsia in June this year, Joy has been busy undertaking wedding preparation and continuing to tutor piano at a local music school. Within the next six months, Joy hopes to complete her Early Childhood Education Certificate, and later a Master of Teaching to enable her to teach in schools. As for her long-term goals: ‘I want to create my own music school business to encourage kids in their musical pursuits, but which is also a space where my employees love coming to work. I want the parents of my students to feel known and I want to create a community where people feel safe, accepted, and valued. If I can do that through my musical gifts that would be a fun medium, so I am working towards that. I need a lot of money to start that up – to buy a place, buy some pianos and resources and employ teachers – so that’s a long-term goal,’ says Joy.
In terms of what advice Joy would give to future Excelsia students, she recommends going in with an open mind. ‘It enables you to make the most of the opportunity and meet people, and get involved in any activities. It’s up to you to fully enjoy the experience here. For me, I got to meet lots of students and, through my assessments, people in the industry, which was super formative not only for being in the industry but for life. You can sit back, complain and not do things but if you go in with an open mind and a positive attitude it can be a really enjoyable experience and you can learn tons and meet people.’
We can’t wait to see where Joy ends up using her musical gifts. If you feel inspired by Joy’s journey, why not explore Excelsia’s Bachelor of Music course
You never know the impact your actions and words can have on shaping a person’s future career. For Jenelle Magtibay, it was the nurture and encouragement of her Year 11 and 12 music teacher that led her to enrol in Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Music. The 21-year-old, who completed her course this year, chose to major in music performance, with voice as her primary instrument and piano and bass guitar as her supporting instruments. Jenelle is putting her training to good use and currently working as a music teacher at Real Rhythm Studio in Fairfield, Ignite Music in Dural and a private tutor at her own business, Jenelle’s Singing School. Outside of Excelsia, Jenelle is also involved in her local church community where she serves on worship band.
Music has played an integral part of Jenelle’s life, particularly during her high school years when she developed her passion for vocals and R’n’B, contemporary and soul music. ‘I pursued music all my way through high school from Years 7 to 12 and then chose to do Music 1 for my HSC (Higher School Certificate) course. Since Year 9, I knew I wanted to pursue music in some way. I always had the dream to study music therapy, and it was my Music 1 music teacher who encouraged me to consider enrolling in a music course. She was very much like a mum to me, and she’d always guide me and take care of me and make sure that I was doing my work.’
After reaching the end of her Bachelor of Music course, Jenelle became unsure about pursuing music therapy, based on the audition component. ‘I could do the singing part but wasn’t sure about the instrumentation to accompany myself so I was asking God, “What else can I do?” I felt teaching was placed back into my heart; it’s something I also wanted to do as a kid.’ Jenelle was also encouraged by her teachers at Excelsia College who saw traits in her that could complement teaching. ‘My teachers Dr Lotte Latukefu and Elizabeth Blackwood would always say that I’m a natural leader and good at helping people, so I guess those skills of leading people, helping people and teaching were honed more during my time at Excelsia.’
Now studying her Masters of Secondary Education and Training, Jenelle hopes to become a high school music teacher, specifically educating Year 11 and 12 students. In this role, she hopes to show the same nurture and support she received from her teacher to the next generation of music students. ‘Although I don’t know what kind of teacher I will be until I start teaching in the classroom, I know the most important thing is to have a student and teacher relationship. I want students to come to me and to be able to engage in a positive way.’ The Bachelor of Music prepared Jenelle not only with performance skills but also how to communicate with and teach people with disability, as well as how to navigate students with behavioral issues.
As a committed Christian, Jenelle sees music as a vocation where she can daily demonstrate her faith. ‘Even without saying the word “God”, you can show your Christian faith through loving your students, through caring for them, and even discipline is a way to show you care and love them,’ she explains. It is Excelsia’s Christian values that attracted Jenelle to the College in the first place. ‘I went to a Catholic high school, but reaching the tertiary education stage of my life, I wanted to choose a Christian college. I felt a calling from God to go to the College rather than a secular university. I felt that faith in my classes. Even in class God was there. Post-class we’d talk to the teachers or mentors about life, church, or God if we were struggling. We had a music coordinator who would sit down and have a chat with us and ask us what God would want us to do or what God is teaching us this time. It was really nice to have chats like that.’
It was these conservations and her Christian faith that helped Jenelle to become confident in herself. ‘I learned important life lessons during my time at Excelsia, including sticking to who I know I am in God. This helped me to not sway from my beliefs and I learned that I didn’t need to please other people.’
When asked about how she would describe Excelsia, Jenelle calls it a ‘cosy, friendly, inviting and a close-knit community. ‘I would sit on the couch and say hi to people walking past as they were going to class. I spent every weekday at Excelsia, that’s how much I loved being there and hanging out with my friends, practising and jamming.’
Getting to know teaching staff and students from different faculties opened up opportunities for the music student, who helped to promote the College as student ambassador. Jenelle was also able to put her voice to good use for Excelsia’s 2020 musical Songs From a New World. Due to COVID-19, the College’s drama department decided to produce its very first virtual musical and Jenelle unexpectedly found herself front and centre! ‘My thought was that I was going to help the drama students by singing in it but then the director was like, no, you’re the lead! It was a good opportunity to learn from the drama department before leaving my degree,’ says Jenelle.
Excelsia College is delighted that Jenelle has been able to develop her inner confidence, flourish and continue to grow in her Christian faith. We can’t wait to hear where her voice takes her next! If you feel inspired by Jenelle’s story, why not explore Excelsia’s Bachelor of Music course?