Warrnambool teacher credits Deakin University for the role it played in his career

Steve Griffin is proof that university study is “not beyond anybody”.

Living out of home from 15 and having dyslexia prevented Mr Griffin from finishing year 12, but he returned to study aged 38 and has fulfilled his dream to be a teacher.

Lifelong learner: Despite challenges, Warrnambool West Primary School teacher Steve Griffin has fulfilled his dream of an education career.

Lifelong learner: Despite challenges, Warrnambool West Primary School teacher Steve Griffin has fulfilled his dream of an education career.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to do year 12 because I didn’t have a place to live,” he said. “Because I was out on my own from 15 I couldn’t do year 12 and so didn’t have the opportunity to go to university. I wanted to teach from when I was young but never had the opportunity.”

His work with various youth services reignited his dream. “I remember telling a friend that I’d always wanted to do teaching but didn’t think it would be an option. A few months later he told me he’d applied to go to uni to do teaching; I thought if he can do that, so can I.”

He gained entry to Warrnambool’s Deakin University’s Bachelor of Education (Primary) in 2011. “Because I’m dyslexic, I was always told I’d never do much in the way of study. I was discouraged from studying so I was extremely nervous going to university, but my perception of uni was totally wrong. I thought that if you’re not an academic type of person then university is not for you. I thought it was a bit beyond the reach of a person like me but it was quite the opposite.”

Mr Griffin said his lecturers supported him through the whole process as he worked to support his family and admitted it almost became too much. “There were times when it was hard to get food on the table but Deakin was amazing and came up with food vouchers and other support.” 

Mr Griffin completed his course in 2014 and secured work at Warrnambool Primary School. He later became a health, physical education and music teacher at Warrnambool West Primary School.

His first day in the classroom was surreal. “I had one of those moments when I froze and thought I’m responsible for these guys. I also took a quiet moment to say I’ve done this.”

Mr Griffin can empathise with students of varying abilities and backgrounds. “Just to get to school is a challenge for a lot of students; the fact that they turn up is something I celebrate with them.” 

He also talks about dyslexia to broaden students’ acceptance of people with learning issues.

“I stayed away from university because of what people had said. There’s a big misconception about university and what it’s all about and who can go there. I’m extremely thankful for having Deakin in Warrnambool; there’s no way I could have done this if we didn’t have a university here. It’s not beyond anybody.”