Nathan’s background is in finance and law, but he decided it was time for a change.

He found the perfect way to give back through volunteering as a tutor.

After working as a lawyer, then in finance, Nathan has now entered what he refers to as “early retirement.”

“I always wanted to do something meaningful,” he says. “And I reached a point where I’d earned enough so that I could pause, reflect and think about what I wanted to do.”

His thoughts led him down a very different path. “Partly due to the pandemic, and thinking about the difference that teachers can make, I decided to become a high school maths teacher,” he explains.

“I think back and realise that the great maths teaching I got at school allowed me to go and achieve what I did.”

– Nathan believes every student deserves some extra support

“I didn’t have much of a resume for teaching,” he continues, “So I thought while I’m waiting for my Masters of Teaching to start, I might as well look for opportunities to teach.”

“I did some paid tutoring, but it wasn’t really my vibe. I found that all the students there didn’t really have any learning needs, it was just a way to get ahead, to embed an already existing advantage they had.

“Searching for volunteer tutoring, it was actually quite hard to find something. I eventually found Weave and filled out the form and met Denise, and it all went from there!”

“I help my student with a bit of everything. I want to be student-led in my approach. I start by asking him what he’s been doing at school and if there’s anything he wants to focus on.

Nathan uses lots of diverse techniques to support and engage his student: “Usually my typical session would involve a bit of reading – I bought a whole heap of books at his year level about Rugby League because that’s what he’s interested in, and because reading out loud is good for his development.

“I also get him to play games that have maths hidden – Monopoly is really good, because he likes it, but it’s full of literacy and numeracy, counting the money, doing addition and subtraction. When I feel like he’s up for it on the day, I’d use an educational website called NRICH with maths games that really get you to think, so we play those as well.

“Sometimes I do direct maths, like the Fibonacci sequence, or whatever feels right on the day. I’d always try to be adaptive to what he’s feeling. I’d always ask how he’s feeling, and if he’s tired we’d just play games, like chess – he asked me to teach him to play chess.

However, for Nathan, tutoring is about way more than helping with homework.

“What I’ve tried to impart to my student is to really express to him that he can do academic things if he wants. I’m always trying to tell him that he can go to uni if that’s what he chooses to do. Rugby is a big part of what he’s passionate about and that’s really good, and I’m trying to tell him that that doesn’t mean you can’t also be really good academically.

Seeing the potential in his student is a huge motivator for Nathan, and a big part of what drew him to teaching in the first place. “I’m trying to make that pathway seem within reach for him,” he says. “I’m hoping if I plant those seeds that when the time comes I hope to have expanded his horizons in terms of what’s possible for him.

“He’s very bright, very switched on, I think he could do whatever he wants. I’m trying to get him to realise you don’t have to create these false dichotomies in life. You can do sport and academics, you don’t have to choose.”

In terms of the Tutoring Program itself, Nathan has learnt a lot along the way. “It’s such a rewarding thing to do. And I think it’s genuinely a mutual exchange of knowledge if you go in with the mindset that you’re just two people sharing what you know. I happen to know lots about academics so that’s what I can share, but there’s a lot I can learn too. It’s just really fun.”