Paralympian reflects on his favourite teacher

Gold medallist Matthew Haanappel remembers how his Melba College teacher Terry Bennett inspired him to be the best he could be.

​Teachers have an impact on students long after their time at school, something that Paralympic gold medallist Matthew Haanappel reflects on when he look back at his time at school and the decision he almost made to not continue his education and complete his VCE.

Returning to Melba College to visit his favourite teacher, Terry Bennett, and to share how Terry inspired him to be the best he could be.

'What's so important to have throughout both your primary school and secondary is to have someone that you can turn to as a mentor; someone who can really inspire you to achieve the best possible you,' Matthew ​​says.
'For me personally, that was Terry.'

During 2012, Matthew deferred his education to represent Australia in swimming at Paralympic Games in London in 2012, where he won his gold medal. From there he made the decision to return to school and complete his education, but this wasn't without its challenges.

'What made Terry so important to me was that he was able to, always calm me down in my days that I was actually feeling really sad and upset and not really wanting to continue with my education.'

Turning over the gold medal Matthew won in London, Terry reflects on how proud he is of the man his former student has become.

'Every kid should have an opportunity to have the highest quality government school experience as possible,' Terry says.

'And you're living proof, that's just great. I watched you grow up from a young lad, to a man.'


Public school. Our School

This video is one of series where well-known Australians celebrate the government school teachers that had a tremendous influence on their life. Part of the Public School. Our School initiative, these stories celebrate government schools and the teaching profession in Victoria.

Explore more stories celebrating a favourite teacher
Part of the Public School. Our School campaign​