ACHPER QLD Feature Teachers

ACHPER QLD is committed to sharing best practice and encouraging networking in the field of HPE, as well as showcasing innovative health and physical education programs and inspirational teachers. The community page aims to share stories from our schools, educators and activities across Queensland.

Linda Gough, HPE Teacher, Kuranda District State College

ACHPER QLD is very proud to introduce Linda Gough as our first feature teacher for 2020. Linda has been teaching in the Cairns region for 15 years and has been at Kuranda District State College since 2009. Linda is passionate about student participation in sport and enabling students to reach their highest potential in their chosen sporting area (district/region/state) and engaging students in quality health lessons and utilising community health coordinators to provide informative lessons. She has a particular passion for student wellbeing and strives to continually learn and develop skills and strategies to assist students with their wellbeing.

In 2009, Linda created the Kuranda Stars Cheerleading team. The cheerleading program is offered as an extra-curricular activity, catering for all students across Prep – Year 12.  The team trains every Monday and Wednesday afternoon.  Not only do the students develop and learn cheer and dance skills/movements – they learn communication techniques, leadership, resilience, team building and fundraising. Over the 10 years, the teams have travelled and competed at Scholastic National Competitions in Townsville, Brisbane, and Gold Coast and in 2019 – Melbourne.  The team has experienced excellent success at these competitions as well as learning to work hard to make their goals and dreams in cheerleading be achieved.

Linda was recently recognised as a finalist in the 2019 ACHPER QLD Inspirational Teacher of the Year Awards. This excerpt from the nomination illustrates the dedication and passion Linda has for her students and school community.

“Mrs Linda Gough has been coaching the Kuranda Stars Cheerleading team for 10 years. Every year she puts her heart and soul into the team, and this year she has excelled. She is currently coaching three cheerleading teams - Prep-Grade 3, Under 12's and a senior Hip Hop group, 27 girls in total. The teams are competing in the Nationals held in Melbourne in November/December this year. Mrs Gough is always full of energy and life and encourages each member of the team to do their best. She organised fitness classes for the teams (and their families) one morning per week and has organised numerous fundraising events for the team so that every girl can participate in the competition. These include a school trivia night, sausage sizzle, bake sale and applying for grants. She freely gives up her own time to coach the teams, and trains with them 4 days a week, before and after school, even though she has her own young family at home. She is an amazing person and is an inspiration to the whole team to achieve their very best.” 

Linda’s top tip for teachers: Always take the time to get to know your students – not only does this build rapport, but it leads to quality and effective classroom/outdoor teaching.


Peter Upton, Head of Department, King's Christian College

Peter Upton has been a passionate educator of Health and PE for almost three decades. Currently Head of Department at King's Christian College on the Gold Coast, Peter loves helping create positive change in his students' lives, enabling his students to develop their skills and building connections within the school and wider community. 

Peter is particularly proud of the school's Rugby League and Touch programs but is an enthusiast of all sports. He is committed to senior PE and  strives to help his students develop their leadership capabilities. He was inspired to personally take on leadership roles because he believes that there is more that can be done when committing to these roles.

Peters' Top Tips for Teachers: Be authentic. Focus on why you do what you do, and love what you do.


Cameron Francis, HPE Teacher, Marymount College

There are lots of reasons Cam Francis loves his job as an HPE teacher at Maymount College on the Gold Coast.

“The fact that we have an opportunity to help young people every day. No day is ever the same. The school community is a fantastic environment to work in. I really believe we have the best job!”

Cameron is four years into his teaching career and is passionate about instilling activity as part of his students’ daily routine, and is really proud of the increased focus on, and opportunities that female students have to play sport and be active at Marymount College.

“For me, being active is being able to participate in everyday activities and explore the great outdoors that Australia has to offer.”

Cam is interested in developing his leadership skills and attended the ACHPER QLD Leadership Retreat earlier this year. He is committed to delivering on the vision he and his colleagues have for HPE at Marymount, to being part of a team and striving to achieve this common goal.

Top Tip for teachers: "Find a mentor that will help support you. Follow ACHPER and other teachers on Twitter / FB – some of the best PD you will do!"


Julie McCarthy, Acting HoD, Park Ridge State High School

Julie McCarthy from Park Ridge State High School in Logan is this month’s feature teacher. Currently the Acting HoD for Health and Physical Education, Julie has spent the last 12 years honing her skills as an educator. Julie is passionate about instilling a lifelong love of physical activity and learning amongst her students. She enjoys positively influencing her students and inspiring others to be better and achieve more. Seeing her students develop from their beginnings in year 7 to graduating in year 12 is a real highlight for Julie.

As an educator who wants to continually grow, learn and develop, Julie was inspired to take on a leadership role so she could be in a position to make positive change and inspire others – particularly to help others take up their own individual ‘next challenge’.

Julie is particularly proud of Park Ridge’s AFL Excellence Academy. The AFL Excellence program aims to provide students an opportunity to develop towards ‘elite’ levels in Australian Rules Football, through coaching opportunities and specialised strength and conditioning. Targeted support is provided to encourage students to reach their full potential as athletes, whilst promoting academic success and instilling the AFL Academy core values of attitude, commitment and success.

Julie’s Top Tips for Teachers: “Ask for help. Look for the good in all students and remember what inspired you to become a teacher in the first place”.


Chris Sikora, HPE & ICT Teacher, Marymount College

Meet Chris Sikora, this month’s HPE Feature Teacher from Marymount College in Burleigh Waters, South East Queensland. Chris is passionate about promoting lifelong, healthy attitudes towards physical activity in his students. He is also committed to helping his students develop a well-rounded approach to Health and PE, rather than just producing single-sport focused athletes.

Chris loves teaching HPE because it is a high energy environment that is constantly changing. He is able to continuously learn and deepen his knowledge of teaching and health and well-being while also seeing the positive impacts and changes in his students lives that stem from this vibrant environment.

Chris is particularly proud of his school as Marymount College has an extensive range of extracurricular sporting and cultural activities run by the enthusiastic staff at the school. From the large rugby and netball teams on the sporting side, to the technology-based programs such as Code Club, Marymount strives to offer additional learning opportunities for a wide range of interests and abilities.

Chris’ top tip for teachers: “Ask plenty of questions and be open to feedback!”


Ben Carter, Head of PE, All Souls St Gabriel's, Charters Towers

Meet Ben Carter this month’s feature teacher. An educator for eight years, Ben is passionate about teaching a range of sports to his classes. He loves changing a student’s perspective from “why are we doing this?’ to ‘That was great, let’s do it again!”

“I loved seeing the lightbulb moment in a student when they learn something new. Instilling passion and enthusiasm for learning is what drives me to be a teacher, leader and mentor.”

Ben spent the first few years of his career in Sydney and Camden, NSW, before heading north – very north, to Charters Towers where he is currently the head of PE at All Souls St Gabriel’s School. The school is committed to promoting a sense of positivity in both the individual and the school community. Students are encouraged to display the positive attributes of sportsmanship as well as demonstrating high attendance in class. Those reaching these goals are awarded with a badge or “colours” that the students wear on their collar.

Taking on a leadership role in his department and the wider school, Ben hopes to inspire others to be better educators and to give teachers the support they need to excel in and enjoy their jobs.

Top Tip for teachers: “Believe in yourself, stay true to yourself, and remember that you are only human.”


Patrick Atkinson, Head of Department, Villanova College, Brisbane

Our Feature Teacher this month is an amazing ambassador for the H&PE profession. Patrick Atkinson is Head of Department at Villanova College on Brisbane’s southside, a position he has held for 25 years. Patrick’s career spans an impressive three decades, from his first teaching positions in north west England and then outback Queensland to joining the Villa team 31 years ago. During this time Patrick has also coached the rugby team, leading the 1sts to Premiership in 2010 as well as coaching the basketball team for over a decade. When asked what he loves about teaching, Patrick doesn’t hesitate.

I love the lightbulb moments with students. I also love catching up with former students when they reflect on their time at Villa. I value the relationships that are formed with friends and colleagues.”

As Head of Department, Patrick has responsibility for programs across junior, middle and senior school. With Australian youth facing a surge in mental health concerns, drug education and positive mental health strategies are the big issues his team are attempting to address. Recently, a drug education program was implemented across the junior and middle school, as well as the inclusion of mental health units.  Across the senior school, Patrick’s main area is examining socio-cultural influences on physical activity. They have also recently included the Certificate 3 in fitness.

Patrick also manages to find time to support both the H&PE and wider communities. He is an ACHPER member and is a member of the Professional Standards Committee at the Queensland College of Teachers responsible for approval of university education programs. Patrick also donates his time to community outreach programs. He is currently a board member for the Paul Finnimore Trust, a foundation that raises money for disadvantaged students. Patrick is also a local coordinator for Rosie’s Outreach Program for the homeless.

Patrick’s Top Tips for Teachers:

  • Don’t over commit
  • Your job is what you do, not who you are
  • Perfection is for the next life
  • Maintain your focus on what is important
  • If you’re not enjoying it, ask why


Aaron Harding - Teacher, Head of Subject, Churchie, Brisbane

Aaron Harding’s career in education spans over a decade. Currently teaching at Churchie in Brisbane, Aaron holds a variety of roles critical to the success of health and physical education at his school. As well as teaching, Aaron is Head of Subject for Certificate IV Fitness, Recreation Studies; First V Head Coach for Basketball and club basketball coordinator as well as the Boarding Recreation Officer. Aaron’s fundamental love of teaching stems from empowering his students to achieve more than they thought possible. He is passionate about developing strong habits in students that transition to post-high school life; educating students on the benefits of health and physical activity and supporting emotional growth of students over their journey from year 7 to year 12.

Aaron is particularly interested in facilitating the healthy emotional and psychological development of his students. By promoting an active lifestyle and using a constraints-based approach to learning, Aaron adapts lessons to enable students to practice problem solving within a group context. His involvement with Basketball allows Aaron to focus on sports specific instruction as well as the fundamental benefits of teamwork.

Aaron is particularly proud of the Certificate IV Fitness program that he has championed in the schools at which he’s taught. One of the significant benefits of this program is the integration of senior students in the prep and middle year classes which allows the seniors to develop leadership and coaching abilities through the Cert IV and Recreation Studies subjects. 

Aaron’s Top Tip for Teachers: Aim to enjoy your job every day and ask yourself the question “If your job was advertised in the paper, would you apply”. Don’t dwell on the negatives, make the most of the opportunity because we all started in the role for a reason.