Old Andreans at SACS
Monday, 7 November 2022

As part of the series where we profile an Old Andrean who now work at SACS, we caught up with Nicole Barrett (OA2000) who has been working here for more than two decades.  


RH: What’s your role and how long have you been working here?  

NB: I am a clarinet and saxophone tutor and I do ensembles here and there as well. I have been working here for 21 years now. Straight from leaving school in fact. I went straight from SACS into my Bachelor of Music and the first year out of school Chris Belshaw (legendary SACS Head of Music) asked me if I wanted a job, but she had plans for me.  It was stuff I didn’t actually realise was going to happen - I was going through Uni thinking I was going to be a big solo artist, travel the world, do this and that and I started working here, and at the time Chris was training me how to be a teacher, I was teaching a few students here and learning on the job. I never thought I would be a teacher but in my third year of Uni I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and my whole world changed. My fingers stopped working; I couldn’t play my clarinet for a while. Chris sat me down and said “I know you want to be a solo artist, and this has been a struggle and you’re going to get through this, but you’ve got so much knowledge - you should share it and I will help work with you to make you a great teacher. And I’ve never left!  

RH: So what motivated you to come back to SACS?  

NB: I've been looked after so well; Phillip Heath was one of the most inspiring people I've ever met. I was lucky enough to come here on a full music scholarship. Every single music performance, Mr Heath and Mrs Belshaw were there – and not just the School ones. The support I received was immaculate. Without fail – they had my back. I wanted to keep myself submerged in the supportive environment. And they allowed me to stay 

RH: What was the naughtiest thing you did at school? 

NB: Well, I was one of the “original” girls and our year (OA2000) was the craziest year. I think my role was getting stuck trying to save everyone else from doing something they shouldn’t, and I still do that to this day!  

I didn’t do anything too bad, because I was a music scholar, I was in the practice rooms 24/7, let alone my dad letting me go to a house party or something! I think I only went to two the whole two years I was here! I didn’t even go to Schoolies because I didn’t want to be that person getting people out of scrapes, and I’m so glad I didn’t because all my friends got caught making mischief!  

RH: How has being an Old Andrean affected your role here? 

NB: It's made me feel even more a part of the community. There are still teachers here who were teaching when I was at school! It's an amazing thing to be able to lean on - I can say to a student or I might be conducting an ensemble and I can say “when I was here, this is how we did it” etc. It was also great that my sister was here – and people still confuse us to this day.  

RH: What else do you do when you’re not working here?  

NB: I’m very submerged in family life. I have an eight-year-old daughter – Alyria - who will hopefully come here in Year 7! I also have loads of Labradors at home which keeps me busy.  I do a lot of tutoring at home too and used to do lots of freelance performing. Lots of exercise too. It's all been fabulous.