Our ‘Values in Action’ series shines a light on how our Caulfield Grammar School employees live our School values. Pursuing Excellence is an ongoing commitment to individual and collective growth through perseverance, collaboration and resilience. 

Values in Action staff profile Irvana Izic, German teacher, Caulfield Campus

Irvana Izic, a German Teacher at Caulfield Campus, shares how Pursuing Excellence encourages her to persist in the face of challenge and learn from setbacks.  

In 1992 I escaped the Bosnian War and became a refugee living in Germany. I was 10 years old when we fled and even today there are events in the news that bring back a lot of difficult memories.  

I left Bosnia with Mum and my sister, but Dad stayed behind to help as a doctor. He wanted to keep us safe, but he just didn’t feel he could leave the hospital and his patients behind. We weren’t sure we would ever see him again. Thankfully, he arrived 10 months later to be with us in Germany. 

I went to school in Germany where I learnt to speak German. After the war ended, the German government wanted the 400,000 Bosnian refugees to return to Bosnia. But my parents didn’t see a future for us there, so we applied for residency in Australia, USA and Canada.  

I arrived in Melbourne on 6 February 1999 knowing very little English. The next day I found myself starting Year 12 at McKinnon Secondary College. They wanted me to repeat Year 11, but I was determined that, after everything I had been through, I could complete my VCE successfully. And I did. 

Mum’s side of the family are all lawyers and judges and Dad’s side are all doctors, so there was real pressure to pursue a career in either law or medicine. I did a Law degree at Melbourne University because I had the marks. But I was always drawn to teaching and working with young people, so I went on to complete a Dip Ed.  

Given my background, I thought I would teach legal studies, but at the time there was high demand for German teachers. My first job out of university was teaching German at Fountain Gate Secondary College. It was a challenging but rewarding learning experience and I developed some wonderful relationships with the students during my four years there.  

In 2011 I joined Caulfield Grammar at Caulfield Campus. For the past 14 years I have been teaching German from Years 7–12. More recently, I have also taught Year 8 Individuals & Societies, which satisfies my ongoing interest in politics and globalisation.  

I value the relationships I build with my students – this is one of the most rewarding parts of being a teacher. I’m a perfectionist by nature so I find it hard to accept defeat and failure. It’s something that I’m working on. Having said that, pursuing excellence gives me a drive to never give up, however long it takes. It brings me such joy to watch a student who may not be that academic do well because they have put their best effort in, persevered and strived to succeed. 

I love working at Caulfield Grammar. Commitment to community and helping those in need is strongly entrenched in our family and I see these same values embedded here – there is such a strong and vibrant staff and student community and an appreciation of diversity. I am lucky to have experienced this as both a teacher and a parent at the School.