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Laura Dillon is a former lawyer who has been at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School since 2007 and head of business studies since 2011. She teaches business management, legal studies and commerce-related subjects and is passionate about building the knowledge and confidence of her students.

Brianna Kline joined Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School in year 8. She is now in year 11 and has chosen a mix of humanities and science subjects at VCE, including legal studies. During her time at Ivanhoe, Brianna has become a keen debater and this year took part in YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament in the chambers of Parliament House.

 

BRIANNA SAYS …

I’ve been fascinated with the law for a long time. My dad is an accountant but he always talks about his interest in the law and that sparked an interest for me. The Australian Business Week program in year 10 gave me my first taste of what the business faculty at school is and it gave me a chance to explore my interests. The team I worked with created a project called Viva La Volts. As CEO, I definitely felt some pressure and there was some friendly competition between the groups but everyone worked hard to get the job done.

I knew I wanted to do legal studies since year 9. I’m a big debater and that aspect of being a lawyer and standing up for people affected by injustice interests me. So I was very excited to be part of the Youth Parliament Program. The Bill we created was titled The Girls’ Access to Education and Healthcare Products Bill, which aims to stop the injustice against women in relation to their access to healthcare, sanitary products and exemption from the associated GST. Presenting in Parliament on the first day was nerve-wracking but I became more confident – I loved being able to stand up and share what I believed in. On the final day we could present on an issue close to us and I made a speech about the fact there is no funding for children with special needs in three-year-old kindergarten.

Mrs Dillon is very passionate about legal studies and she shares anecdotes from her experience in the legal field and that helps us to better understand the subject. She is a very bright and active teacher and loves engaging with the class.

I have a quote from Mrs Dillon on my laptop screen – “your ATAR will not define you”. Whenever we get an assessment back, she reminds us that it’s not about our mark but what we have learned and how we can use that knowledge to develop further. At the start of the year I believed success was getting an A+ but Mrs Dillon has taught me that it’s about focusing on the path of learning and that is extraordinarily empowering.

When I leave Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School I will take that philosophy with me and remember that learning is about the overall journey and how you can make yourself a better person.

Photo: Stephen McKenzie
Photo: Stephen McKenzie

 

LAURA SAYS …

Before I started teaching I was a lawyer, working in commercial and insurance litigation. In law you deal with clients but you work independently a lot and you soon end up specialising in a particular area. Pretty quickly I realised that I wanted a job where I could make an immediate difference and where the impact of my work was more tangible. When you teach you have different classes every day and you meet students who bring a variety of views and ideas to the classroom. I tutored while I was at university and knew I enjoyed helping young people to develop their skill set and to grow their confidence. So after a year of practising law I switched to teaching.

I especially enjoy teaching the subjects that are part of our business program because they have real-world application. I think students initially think the subjects will be a little dry but I focus on a lot of case studies to bring the subjects to life and I see students expand their communication skills while learning about managing people, teamwork and the role of leadership. In year 11 legal studies we look at civil and criminal law and family law. We also look at the operation of Parliament and law-making and I think that’s very useful information for young people. Students learn about how democracy works and how they can participate in that as active and informed citizens. I worked closely with Brianna when she was one of six students from Ivanhoe Girls’ chosen to be part of the Youth Parliament Program. Schools from around the state take part and each team has to draft their own Bill on an issue of concern to them.

I first met Brianna when she took part in our Australian Business Week program last year. All year 10 students have to create and run their own online simulated business for a week. Brianna was CEO of her team and they won a prize for their efforts. Brianna struck me as a young woman with confidence, conviction and a great deal of initiative. She is always looking for opportunities to challenge herself and I think I’ve encouraged her to see mistakes as the essence of learning and to look at different situations and to see what she can get out of them. Increasingly, she is not so worried about the end result but about the learning that occurs in the process.

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Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School

 

Laura Dillon, Head of Business Studies at Ivanhoe Girls Grammar and Year 11 student, Brianna Kline. Photo by Stephen McKenzie.
Laura Dillon, Head of Business Studies at Ivanhoe Girls Grammar and Year 11 student, Brianna Kline.
Photo by Stephen McKenzie.