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24 Nov 2023

Meet Paul Nolan, Manager, Ballarat Regional Centre

Paul Nolan, Academy of Teaching and Leadership

Paul Nolan, Manager, Ballarat Regional Centre

Paul Nolan is an experienced educator. He has been a teacher in government and non-government schools in metropolitan and regional areas, assistant principal, principal and regional senior project officer. Before joining the Academy in late 2022, Paul was a Senior Education Improvement Leader (SEIL) for over 5 years, supporting principals in the Central Highlands Area.         

The best part of my job is…  

What I love about my job is working with teachers and school leaders in a regional epicentre of high-quality professional learning. There is always a very positive atmosphere with participants actively engaging, curious to learn and build their capacity as educators and leaders. This keeps me connected with the Department and schools and enables me to provide support and guidance with the professional learning needs of my colleagues in education.     

What education means to me…  

I believe that education is like being handed the keys to open new doors of opportunity, regardless of who you are. It’s a great leveller and can be a vehicle to address disadvantage and inequity in our society. I’ve done quite a lot of study, and I’ve worked in schools and the regional office for many years. Through this, I’ve discovered the more I learn, the more I realise there is to learn.     

One of my fondest memories from working in a school is…  

I have fond memories of my very first class. I had a Year 4 class with 34 students at St. Monica’s Primary School in Moonee Ponds. They were great kids, and I was very privileged to work with a dedicated team of teachers and a strong, dynamic principal. I remember my very first day teaching: I was very nervous. The parents and kids all waited outside before I opened the classroom door – they were anxious to see the new teacher. The fact that I heard a parent say, ‘Gee, he’s young,’ reminds me of how long ago it was.  

The best place to get coffee near the Academy Ballarat centre is…  

There’s a great little café in the main street of Ballarat (Sturt Street). It’s called Yellow Espresso and it’s always busy, so you have to be patient to get an excellent caffeine fix. 

My favourite subject at school was…  

My favourite subject at school was English literature. I had a very dramatic Year 12 teacher who made the various works we read come to life. I then majored in English literature at university and had a ‘mad professor’ lecturer. He was so inspiring and when he read certain poems to the class he would begin to weep, of course triggering all of us to weep too.     

A teacher who inspired me…  

I had a very inspiring Year 12 politics teacher. He would regularly go off task and tell us various stories of political intrigue. He made me see that politics is like watching an engaging lifelong soap opera, but he also instilled in me the importance of understanding politics, especially in relation to social justice issues.  

What advice would you give to teachers interested in doing some professional learning? 

I believe that teaching is complex, challenging and unrelenting, but it’s incredibly rewarding. I’d be suggesting to teachers, ‘You owe it to yourself to be re-energised professionally and reaffirm your joy of teaching.’  

The programs I am most excited to offer local educators are… 

I’ve been very lucky to be a facilitator of Inspire. It’s such a great program, since it enables potential teacher leaders to learn about and practice leadership. I also love the fact that local teachers can be empowered to become local leaders through not only Inspire, but Literacy Local Leaders and Numeracy Local Leaders.    

My connection to the Ballarat region started way back when… 

I completed most of my schooling in Ballarat. However, I also completed 2 years of my schooling in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (late elementary and early junior high). 

What I think has improved over the years in Ballarat is… 

I believe schools in the Central Highlands now have many more inclusive practices for students. There is also a much great emphasis on differentiating learning and learner agency. I’m proud of the work that our school leaders and teachers do all day, every day. 


Find out more about the Ballarat centre here.

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