Introducing our wonderful & dedicated school staff including our teachers, principals and education support staff. Each week we will add a new staff member to this page.

On this page we have included the following staff members. Please scroll down to read about each of these wonderful people in detail and find out about their special Rowville Secondary College story.

  • Julia Duke – Production Coordinator
  • Kacey Hocking – Head of RIA & Productions Coordinator
  • Gary Gilbert – Health & PE Teacher
  • Carolanne Collins – Teacher
  • Kelly Gaunt – Wellbeing Coordinator (WEST)
  • Jane Zaal – VCE Coordinator
  • Marica Distefano – Receptionist
  • Melissa Fraser – Transition Coordinator
  • Damien Mizzi – Director of Music
  • Joanne Johnson – Wellbeing Coordinator (EAST)
  • Matthew Neal – Dean of Students

Julia Duke

Production Coordinator 

Julia started teaching as a graduate at Rowville Secondary College in 2010 working at the Eastern Campus. In Julia’s earlier years at the college she taught the majority of junior science and maths to RIA classes connecting with the students through her passion for the arts!

“I have also taught numerous RSA classes and had the fantastic opportunity of being selected to go on the USA basketball Tour in 2015 which was a definite highlight of my career.”

“In 2012 I began working alongside Kacey Hocking as Production Coordinator and have helped to develop this fantastic program. Running this program and working with such amazing students and staff has been my favourite part of each year. Being surrounded by people with such a passion for the arts is incredible and this has helped to keep my passion for teaching alive.”

Julia’s favourite thing about teaching is “being able to connect with people, not just students. Getting to know the individuals in my class and helping them to strive to achieve their best not only in their studies, but also their lives.”

In Julia’s spare time she is involved in numerous theatre companies around Melbourne performing on stage as well as working behind the scenes. Recently she become a “fur mumma” to her beautiful Labrador pup called Beans.

Kacey Hocking

Head of RIA & Production Coordinator

Introducing Ms. Kacey Hocking our ‘Production Coordinator’ (for the last 10 years) and in 2018 she also became ‘Head of RIA’.  As Head of RIA, Kacey is working hard to make the RIA program a fantastic provider of Arts Education in Victoria.

“This is my 10th year teaching at Rowville S.C and I have loved every year of it. I started my career at the College, teaching VCE Drama and junior and middle school dance and drama at the Western Campus. I was there for 3 years before moving to the East to head up the RIA Drama program. I designed and wrote the RIA Drama course as well as assisting in developing the RIA Dance course. I now teach in Dance Specialism, but I continue to teach VCE Drama and VCE Dance.”

In my spare time, I am involved in local theatre companies and regularly perform in musicals and choreograph and direct for amateur companies.

Kacey Hocking (continued).

Q. What are you looking forward to this year at RSC?

I am looking forward to developing the RIA program and working with extraordinarily talented and dedicated staff to do this. Developing and providing high quality arts education in secondary schools is a real passion of mine and I have some pretty exciting ventures planned for RIA in the coming years.

As well as this our 2018 production is a highlight on not only the College Calendar but mine as well. Working with over 120 enthusiastic, passionate students who are incredibly talented is such a joy for me. I consider myself one of the luckiest drama and dance teachers in the world to be able to do the job that I do

Q. What do you love most about working at the college?

The students and staff are what I love most about RSC. Working in the RIA program I am surrounded by staff and students who love the arts as much as I do. Building positive relationships and sharing learning together is really important to me. I’m a strong believer in creating authentic learning opportunities for students and teaching through practice. Providing students with opportunities where they build their skills to become to innovative and creative artists, enables a holistic approach to their learning as well as fostering professional attitude and behaviour. I value every day that I get to work and teach students, encouraging them to be creative and curious in their learning.

Gary Gilbert

Health & PE Teacher

Meet Gary Gilbert, our Health & PE Teacher who has been at Rowville Secondary College for over 20 years. For the last 15 years, Gary has been a Year Level Coordinator / Team Leader at both the Eastern and Western Campuses – mostly in the senior school. Currently Gary is a year 7 Learning Mentor “I love assisting the year 7 students and their families with their transition into high school.”

“I am passionate about anything sport related and I really love teaching. As such I have had a lot to do with students at the college on school camps, coaching sporting teams and also watched a number of students participate in their sporting activities and their grand finals outside of school on weekends.”

“I have a philosophy that successful teaching is about first building positive relationships with students. I believe that the more time you invest in students outside of the classroom, the easier and more effective it is inside the classroom.”

Gary Gilbert (continued).

Over his time at the college Gary has met a wide variety of students and seen many changes take place at the college. “It is incredibly rewarding to work with the young people in the community and see them learn skills or grasp concepts. I love it when ex-students come back and visit or seeing them in the community and learning of their success in life.”

Gary is a father of 5 children – all born while he was teaching at Rowville. “Rowville SC has always been a part of our families’ lives. From a young age my children have come to work with me on occasions, or out on excursions and have attended every school musical. Although we do not live in the Rowville area, it was a ‘no brainer’ that they attend Rowville SC. My three oldest are currently at the college and take advantage of the many opportunities the school offers – including various sports and excursions, multiple camp opportunities and a huge variety of electives to meet their interests.”

Gary added “one thing that has been a constant over the last 20+ years are the supportive staff at the college. The students are really blessed to have a number of dedicated and incredibly hard working, quality individuals as teachers who will bend over backwards to help them in their educational journey”.

“Despite being at the college for so long, I don’t feel like any need to change. Things are always changing and the college is continually looking to improve. Now with the reintroduced house system, introduction of Learning Mentors, and a real focus on the importance of developing a growth mindset I am really excited about what the future holds at the Rowville Secondary College.”

Carolanne Collins

Teacher (EAST)

Introducing the wonderful Ms. Carolanne Collins who is our Yellow House Champion and currently teaches RIA Broad Arts Media, English and RIA Media. Here’s what Ms. Collins has said about her teaching career and working at RSC:

“I have just celebrated 36 years educating at a ceremony held by the North Eastern Region so I have been reflecting upon those years of service in four very different schools. When I began teaching I was fortunate to be in a very progressive school that offered a new subject of Information Technology using desktop computers storing information on 5 ½ Inch floppy discs. The Education Department encouraged Leisure subjects because computerisation was going to provide everyone with more free time, I think they may have got that wrong. I was privileged to teach Media Studies in a semi-professional dedicated Television Studio setting and many of my early students have gone on to careers in media. I moved to another school where I worked with another teacher to introduce Performing Arts as a subject from Year 7 -11.

I was also fortunate to be involved in developing and trialling the introduction of VCE in three different subject areas.

Carolanne Collins (continued)

I have been the director of numerous school musicals and productions, Debutante Balls and as you would expect, have had many roles in management: Head of Faculty; Year level Coordinator; Transition Coordinator, to name a few. Sadly, I also have experienced the demise of the Technical education system which I am happy to see is making a strong comeback.

At the end of the last century, I went to a country school where there was a strong sense of community and from there I came to Rowville Secondary College where I have been for 18 years. As a member of the Rowville community, having lived here since 1986, I am very passionate about having our local school become the best school for our community. My daughter completed her education here and had a great education in the Institute of the Arts, where I too had the opportunity to help develop the introduction of such a rich program.

The thing I love most about Rowville is the range of educational opportunities available to our students and the community. In my career the most motivating factor is my student’s success and success comes in many forms, not necessarily determined by a final score. Many of my most successful student’s careers have really taken flight ten years after leaving school but their schooling helped shape them into the wonderful adults they have become and I have been privileged to have met and taught a range of wonderful people one of whom is Winston Hillyer.”

Jane Zaal

VCE Coordinator

Introducing Jane Zaal our VCE Coordinator at the Western Campus. Ms. Zaal looks after the programs and concerns for all VCE students. Her job entails working with students to ensure that they have a program in place that will assist them to do their very best in their studies.

Jane has been at Rowville Secondary College since 2004 and her main subject that she teaches is English. Jane’s favourite moment in the classroom is when a student achieves their very best – that moment when the student ‘gets it.’  “It’s a great feeling to watch them learn and understand what you are teaching them. RSC is a school with so many opportunities for staff, but especially students.  I love working at the college because it is an ever-changing school and we’re always moving forward with our teaching and challenging students minds, and watching them learn is great.”

“I am looking forward to my new role as VCE Coordinator and assisting students to do their very best while at school. My favourite part of the day is the Learning Mentor time, I have a fabulous group of students who enjoy the time, building relationships and assisting each other to learn.”

Marica Distefano

Receptionist

Introducing our lovely Receptionist Marica Distefano. Marica has worked at Rowville Secondary College for nearly one year now and is our first point of contact when you pop in or phone the college. Marica handles the day-to-day calls for the college, however if you have a specific question about your child and his or her learning/studies or welfare at the school please contact their Learning Mentor via email on Compass.

“I love working at Rowville Secondary College, it is a very supportive environment and I am continually learning new things. I enjoy working with the staff and teachers and students, it’s very fast paced and no day is ever the same! This year I look forward to our new house system and structure and meeting more of the school families and community.”

Melissa Fraser

Transition Coordinator

Mel Fraser started at Rowville Secondary College approximately 20 years ago! She has worked across both the West and East Campuses teaching Maths. Her previous role was Maths & Science Academy Team Leader where she coordinated various aspects of the MSA program. This year Mel has taken on the new challenge of Transition Coordinator at the West. This involves assisting the year 7 students to settle smoothly into secondary school and working with local primary schools to help showcase Rowville Secondary College. “I have a wonderful year 7 Learning Mentor group who participate enthusiastically in the morning sessions.” She said and added “I love teaching Maths and helping students to understand new concepts to build their mathematical skills. I teach year 12 Math Methods and have had the privilege of teaching some students when they are in year 7 and again when they are in year 12. I am excited about the changes taking place at RSC in 2018 and enjoy being part of this process.” says Mel.

“’I’d like to thank Mrs. Fraser, she is such an inspirational teacher and her teaching methods and approach are amazing, she is very understanding and considerate and I want to be a teacher just like her.” Said Annie Hu, 2017 School DUX when asked who helped her achieve her top ATAR.

Kelly Gaunt

Wellbeing Coordinator (WEST)

Introducing Kelly Gaunt our Wellbeing Coordinator at the Western Campus. Kelly is located opposite the food technology rooms in room 14.  This is Kelly’s third year at Rowville.

“As a social worker I have over 15 years’ experience working with children, adolescents and their families and spent 10 years working in the foster care sector.  I have a passion for working with young people and adolescents are my favourite group to work with!  I am also very fortunate to be working with a wellbeing team who share my passion and commitment.”

“Wellbeing is a place that all students are welcome and we currently have one in six students accessing wellbeing.  I thoroughly enjoy working with staff, students and their families and find Rowville Secondary College to be a very caring community.  The students have made me feel nothing but welcome since my arrival.”

“What I love most about working at Rowville is helping students work through struggles so that they can gain confidence and feel happy and connected at school.  I thoroughly enjoy seeing students who have worked so hard despite the issues they are experiencing and seeing them succeeding.”

Damien Mizzi

Director of Music

Meet our Director of Music, Damien Mizzi. Damien’s background is in music and psychology, both as a teacher and by fusing those areas together as a music therapist. Damien has have worked with children and adults in hospitals, teenagers facing social, emotional and behavioural challenges, and people with disabilities.  Damien started working at the college in 2017, and teaches classes in both music and psych. As Director of Music, his role is to manage our growing Instrumental Music and bands program, and ensure that our Classroom Music and RIA Music programs inspire creativity and excellence.

“We have so many talented and enthusiastic musicians at Rowville SC, and they are fortunate to have many unique performance and composition opportunities, supported by being part of a wonderful musical community.”

“My favourite part of this job is working with students to bring their new musical creations to life. Music provides so many possibilities to empower students and allow them to collaborate and express themselves, and I am looking forward to hearing the songs and compositions that our students record and perform this year.”

Joanne Johnson

Wellbeing Coordinator (EAST) 

Our Wellbeing Office at the East Campus is tucked between room 33 and 34 and there, amongst walls of students’ artworks and comfy lounge chairs, you will find Jo Johnson – Wellbeing Coordinator.

There is every chance you will spot her actively listening to a young person in our school community, empathising with whatever it is that is hampering their ability to thrive. She may be focusing on strength based solutions or possibly introducing them to one of the eight wellbeing team members who will provide specialist support (including psychologists, social workers, youth workers, visiting teachers and mentors).

Jo has been at Rowville Secondary College for over 20 years now and shared that she “feels privileged to be able to support such incredible young people as they grow through a diverse range of challenges.”

A highlight of her time in Wellbeing has been “watching students grow through troubled times to a place where they are confident to use their new found voices. To see students take on leadership roles and use their developed emotional intelligence to help others is very rewarding.”

Matthew Neal

Dean of Students 

Introducing Matthew Neal who is brand new to Rowville Secondary College this year. Previously Mr Neal worked at Gleneagles Secondary College.  Matthew’s previous experiences in schools has been involved in student engagement, specifically as a Senior School Leader and his teaching methods are Physical Education, Health and Science.

Mr Neal’s role this year at Rowville Secondary College is Dean of Students at the East Campus, specifically working with yellow and red houses. This position involves working closely with Learning Mentors and Heads of House to support students in their academic programs.

“What I am most looking forward to in 2018 is being part of the exciting change within the College as the new house system is introduced. It provides a great opportunity to contribute to significant change, which will help support and develop the talents of all students.” Said Matt.

“What I have enjoyed most about Rowville in the short time I have been here is how ‘welcoming’ and ‘supportive’ everybody has been. It has also been great to see student so engaged in their individual strength based programs as part of either the RSA or RIA programs at the east campus.”