Old Flinderian Mia Johnstone Returns to Teach and Coach

Old Flinderian Mia Johnstone graduated with the Class of 2015. Mia has now returned to our College to work as a Teacher Aide and assist with coaching Touch Football - one of her passions in life - as she studies to complete her Master of Teaching (Secondary).

We thank Mia for this Old Flinderian alumni Q&A profile.

Please share your journey since you graduated from Flinders.

After finishing my secondary schooling at Flinders, I decided to accept my first preference at the Queensland University of Technology to study a Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Creative Industries, majoring in Marketing and Visual Communication. 

I graduated from the course in December 2019 and secured a Graphic Designer role at a marketing firm in Brisbane where I had completed an internship. I worked in this role for just under one year, with work coming to a screeching halt in the early months of 2020 due to the current pandemic.

With time to plan, I decided to accelerate the plans I had for the future. I always intended to return to university and study to become a teacher. The opportunity to rethink my future pushed me to enrol in the Master of Teaching (Secondary) program at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

While I study full time, I’m also working here at Flinders in the Sports Department as a Teacher’s Aide. I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and am thoroughly enjoying every moment!

What was a favourite Flinders moment? 

I have many happy memories from my Flinders days! Most of my favourite moments involved sport, whether competing in SCISSA Athletics, travelling to Tasmania for the Australian Schools Knockout Athletics Championships, playing Touch Football, or being part of the QISSN and Vicki Wilson Cup Netball Team. These events are memorable because I was able to share the experience with friends. Although we were all very competitive, at the end of the day we were there to have fun and enjoy ourselves. Our coaches and teachers reinforced this focus and helped to make the preparation leading into these events feel exciting. The main similarity of these memories, however, is the team component.

What sport do you coach at Flinders?

I was heavily involved in many co-curricular activities at Flinders, with Touch Football my main interest. Since graduating from Flinders, I’ve remained involved in the Touch Footy program as a coach. I’ve been fortunate to assist across all age groups and see the strong calibre of talent coming through the junior to senior year levels.

Why was it important for you to return to Flinders and contribute your skills? 

Touch Football is a universal sport with simple rules. It is an easy transition to sports with similar skills required in codes such as Rugby League or Rugby Union. 
Since participating as a student in the Flinders Touch Football program, the sport has grown in popularity with high participation levels. Touch Football is now a sport within the HPE Curriculum at Flinders, and students are eager to continue playing outside of their timetabled classes. Every student arrives enthusiastically to training and is ready to listen and learn. I’m a big believer that performance and effort is derived from enjoyment. My coaching is focused on developing fundamental skills and gradually introducing playing structure and patterns. I always encourage my team to use their vision, to back themselves and have fun!

Do you have a particular role model from Flinders?  

Rather than focusing on one particular role model, I learn from observing the way each teacher conducts themselves. I’ve been able to see the time teachers invest behind the scenes that often goes unnoticed, and how passionate they are when they see their students have a lightbulb moment and understand something they’ve been working towards for many weeks. I also observe the importance teachers place on creating an inclusive environment, building students’ confidence and supporting their wellbeing. These may seem like minor details, but they are critical points that have a far greater influence on a student’s educational experience.

What advice do you have for current students at Flinders?  

My advice to students would be similar to what I would have heard from my parents when I was complaining about waking up early for school, stressing about an assignment due, or counting down the days until the end of the term. I would say, cherish your moments at school because time is precious and you cannot rewind it. Appreciate time spent with your friends, immerse yourself in many co-curricular activities and try to enjoy the moment.

It’s also important to put things into perspective and to control the things that you can. Your senior years of education are undoubtedly challenging, but results don’t dictate your life; all you can do is your best. I think it’s also important to acknowledge that you don’t need to know what you want to do immediately after graduating from school. There are so many opportunities and pathways available now. I can be used as a prime example of this, having graduated with a degree and now returning to study for my second  time!

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