Having taught maths at Daramalan for the past 31 years, Thom Mutton realised his passion for teaching back when he was in school himself.
“It was Year 10. We were learning Euclidean geometry, and I found I could actually help my friends, and that really sparked my interest,” Mr Mutton says.
After briefly dabbling in engineering at university, which wasn’t bringing him much joy, he moved to teaching and hasn’t looked back once during his stellar 37-year career.
Mr Mutton was recently recognised as one of the finest in his field nationally by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute with a Teacher Excellence Award earlier in October. He humbly says the honour is an affirmation of Daramalan’s maths department.
“They’re hardworking, dedicated, professional, and they love teaching so they tick all the boxes … there’s some really good people there.”
Mr Mutton was nominated for the award by his peers and colleagues, which he says means a lot to him.
“All the teachers know and they’ve been constantly congratulating me, and students will pass me in the hall and say ‘oh, congratulations sir’.
“It’s overwhelming, really. I’ve worked hard, tried my best all the time, and clearly now it seems like my best was okay … and that makes me happy.”
Having long been the coordinator of Daramalan’s maths department, Mr Mutton stepped down at the end of 2018 and continues to work there part-time.
Mr Mutton says an aspect of his job that he loves is getting to work with very bright students.
“I really like the challenge of teaching students who are much cleverer than I am. I teach them every year, and quite relish that opportunity to mix it with the best kids.”
Since his career started back in the 1980s, Mr Mutton has firsthand insight into the way technology has completely transformed the way maths is taught.
“When I was at school we had log tables and no calculators … When I started teaching we had calculators, then computers, now phones; that’s really revolutionised teaching, and has also come with a few problems,” he says.