Skip To Main Content

PONTIAC BY WAY OF AUSTRALIA AND SCOTLAND

Share this article with a friend.

October 11, 2021

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

NOTRE DAME CONVERSATIONS

Looking for "best schools in Michigan," one of Notre Dame's newest teachers — from Australia, no less — happened upon NDPMA, applied, got hired and was "blown away" by all he's encountered so far. 

New Notre Dame Middle School math and science teacher Hamish McLean works with student Alexandria Matyn in early October.


New middle school math and science teacher Hamish McLean came to Notre Dame nearly a month ago. He got a bit of a late start to the school year due to some travel issues and the fact that he moved all the way from Australia. Now, as he's finally getting his bearings in this hemisphere, he's quite content with the move. In fact, McLean, 26, and his fiancée, Dianne, who's in a Ph.D. economics program at the University of Michigan, and their dog, a cavapoo, are well-settled in Ann Arbor and enjoying the Michigan fall weather.

McLean says that one of the biggest reasons he accepted a position at Notre Dame was that his research on schools in the state pointed to an organization that matched his own beliefs, ideology and standards.

"I spent many hours researching the school, reading articles and documents on the website, watching videos and came to the conclusion that my values as an educator and those of the school aligned well," he said.

As part of "NOTRE DAME CONVERSATIONS," a relatively new communication initiative that focuses on conversations with members of the Notre Dame family — and after getting his feet thoroughly wet in his new job at NDPMA — McLean was kind enough to talk about his journey from down under and his initial impressions of the school community, including students, faculty and administration. 

This CONVERSATION has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
 
How did you find out about the need for a math and science teacher in the middle school and why did you apply?

HAMISH McLEAN: I began looking for jobs in Michigan because my fiancée, Dianne, is undertaking her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I started by Googling best schools in Michigan and going from there. Notre Dame showed up on a number of articles and school reviews, and so my journey to try and get here began. I spent many hours researching the school, reading articles and documents on the website, watching videos and came to the conclusion that my values as an educator and those of the school aligned well. Upon applying, I was very happy with the conversations I had with Brandon (Jezdimir, principal) and the other middle school staff and the approach they had to education. I decided to continue with the application process.

What is your prior teaching experience?

McLEAN: I spent five years teaching mathematics in Perth, in Western Australia, at a high school (years seven to 12 in Australia). I also taught middle school science to grade eight students and year 11 and 12 in chemistry. This experience was gained at two of the most successful schools in Western Australia: a large government school, Willetton Senior High School, and a private, all-boys school, Christ Church Grammar School.

McLean has experience in virtual learning. Here he is working online with students at Christ Church Grammar School in Perth, Western Australia in March 2020.


Did you grow up in Australia and where in the country did you live?

McLEAN: I actually was born in Scotland and spent the first 12 years of my life there. We moved to Australia in 2007 as a family and I had lived there ever since. I actually now say I'm more Australian than Scottish, but hold onto the Scottish part of my background and still love that part of me, especially the kilt! Our family home was in a suburb called Willetton, and I bought my own first house in a suburb called Maylands.
 
Can you describe briefly the process that got you to the U.S. and Michigan for the Notre Dame position?

McLEAN: My fiancée was the catalyst for the move as she is currently in her second year of her Ph.D. in economics at U-M. It’s been a difficult journey to get here for us both. She was supposed to move to Ann Arbor in 2020; however, that didn't happen due to the global pandemic. She had to complete her first year totally online with a 12-hour time delay, which was not ideal, and I continued teaching in largely unaffected Perth. This year, it became apparent that continuing to study online was going to be too much for Dianne, so she decided to move over here this year. Initially, I was going to complete the school year in Perth before following her, however, we decided that it would be best for us both to move as close together as possible. That’s when my job hunt began.
 
Once I received and accepted the job offer at NDPMA, I managed to secure my working visa for the United States. I also needed to gain permission from the Government of Australia to depart the country (a COVID-19 restriction). This involved signing documents stating that I understood that I cannot return to Australia for at least three months, and even after that time, there was a chance that my application to return — if I ever needed to make one — would be denied.

The trip over here must have been long and arduous as well.
 
McLEAN:
I did have some difficulties with flights as I had to change my initial flight dates. I was originally due to fly with Qantas and United, but they stopped flying from Australia to the United States, so I flew from Perth with Qatar Airways. I left at 11:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10, in Australia (11:15 a.m. EST Friday, Sept. 10, in Michigan), and landed at DTW on Sunday, Sept. 12, at 2 p.m. (EST). There also was a missed flight and a subsequent free hotel night in Chicago due to delays and some TSA backups.
 
The final part of our move was to bring over our dog from Perth to Ann Arbor, and she’s now here safe and sound. 

McLean's fiancée, Dianne, is in a Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan. 

 
What was your initial reaction or impression of our school, its students and fellow teachers?

McLEAN: I was blown away by how nice and dedicated everyone is. All of the teaching staff has been really friendly and supportive and it’s clear to me that they are all in with the education of our youth. The students have all been very supportive as well! Their curiosity and intrigue about me and my journey has also been fun, and their desire to do their very best in the classroom has been really nice to see, too. I am super excited to be a part of their education.
 
What about your family in Australia? Possible to talk about them?

McLEAN: My immediate family numbers five: myself, my dad, mum, and two younger sisters. My dad works in IT as a solutions/enterprise architect, and my mum is a nurse in palliative care for a large nonprofit in Western Australia. The eldest of my two sisters is a veterinarian and the youngest is finishing her studies in radiation therapy. They've been really supportive through all of my travels and endeavors, and they've allowed me to grow as my own person while holding me to good values, which has helped me become a better person than I ever knew I could be. While they found it hard to see their son and brother move to the other side of the world, they are supportive and excited for what this move has meant to me. My family members, honestly, are some of the most amazing people I know.
 
But, Dianne is my rock and support, and she literally is the smartest person I know. She’s very dedicated to whatever she puts her mind to, which has helped her achieve some amazing things already.
 
Our dog is a cavapoo (mix of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed and a Toy Poodle).


NOTE: Also a late addition this year at the middle school is Michele Byrd, below, who teaches sixth grade writing and seventh grade religion.


 

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.

Office of Marketing & Communications

Dan Lai
Director of Communications
Phone: 248-630-7721

Mike Kelly
Director of Marketing
Phone: 248-972-7346

Jim Sesi
Webmaster
Phone: 248-630-7719

Email: MAC@ndpma.org

Irish Magazine

Visual Identity Standards

Submit a story idea