Lisa Patterson


Lisa Patterson had been teaching for over a decade before becoming the Head of Maths at Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney this year. She undertook postgraduate studies at the University of Sydney, completing her Masters of Teaching in 2000, and has taught in a variety of schools since; most notably at Queenwood School where, along with her teaching commitments, she held various leadership roles including Dean of Students and Assistant Director of Curriculum.


1. Could you tell us about yourself, your background, and what made you decide to become a maths teacher?

Lisa Patterson: I grew up on the sunny Northern Beaches of Sydney and after completing my HSC I attended UNSW where I completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Mathematics and Physics. I then enrolled in the Masters of Teaching program at Sydney University, graduating in 2000 with Honours. It is possible that my destiny as a Maths teacher was cemented at a fairly early age. My parents often recall stories of me as a primary aged kid, forcing my younger sister into being a student in my classroom, where the subject of instruction was always ….. Maths. In high school I was inspired by an incredibly passionate and outstanding Maths teacher, Michael Cavanagh, who motivated me to work towards my goals.


2. Could you tell us a little bit about where you’re currently teaching?

Lisa Patterson: I have the privilege of working as the Head of Mathematics at Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney, an independent Catholic Girls school of 1200 students. Monte is an IB (International Baccalaureate) World School, teaching the MYP (Middle Years Program) in Years 7 – 10 and both the IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Program) and the HSC program in the senior years. I work with dedicated staff and wonderful students who make going to work each day a joy.


3. What are your happiest memories about your time here as a student? Did you have a favourite spot on campus or a favourite Professor?

Lisa Patterson: One of the social aspects of uni life that I was looking forward to when I started the MTeach program was the Manning Bar. Sadly, for our cohort, the Manning Bar was closed for refurbishment for the entire period of our degree. However, on a serious note, I was very fortunate to be taught by the late Lindsay Grimison and Associate Professor Lloyd Dawe in the Masters of Teaching program. My memories of Lindsay are of an incredible story teller with great wisdom and advice, which as a student and beginning teacher I was desperate to hear. Lloyd was my Honours supervisor and a wonderful teacher who constantly made me ask questions and think outside the square.


4. Given your experience as a teacher, what is the mantra you live by and what drives you?

Lisa Patterson: I am driven by the enthusiasm and commitment of my students and their desire to become better mathematicians. How lucky am I to be able to work with young people, exploring mathematical concepts together and having a whole lot of fun along the way.


5. What advice would you give to new Teachers graduating from the University of Sydney? Do you have any secret methods to keep your students engaged in the classroom?

Lisa Patterson: The first few years can be quite challenging. You essentially are given the same teaching load and responsibilities as a teacher who has been in the profession for thirty years. You can’t do it all perfectly the first time. Be kind to yourself and make sure you take time out for family, friends and hobbies.


6. What is the mantra you live by and what drives you?

Lisa Patterson: Mathematics is such an important subject for students to learn today for a number of reasons. A report produced by PwC in 2015 suggests that in the next twenty years 44 percent of current Australian jobs will be at risk from digital disruption. We have a responsibility as teachers to help prepare young people for these changes to the workforce. However, I don’t believe the role of education is solely to prepare students for future employment. Studying Mathematics helps develop critical thinking and logical reasoning skills. It is a challenging discipline that assists students in learning the skills of perseverance and it teaches them to communicate precisely. As teachers of Mathematics, we also hope that students learn to appreciate the beauty of the subject and have some fun along the way.


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