Andy Russell recently joined MultiLit as General Manager of Literacy Services, overseeing the operations of our Literacy Centres.
We caught up with Andy to find out about his background, what brought him to MultiLit, and what he enjoys about working with students and families.
Tell us a little about your role at MultiLit.
Andy: As General Manager of Literacy Services, my role is really to stay in the background. I provide the Centres with the systems, processes and support they need to allow them to focus on what really matters – delivering quality instruction to kids that need it most.
What is your background in education?
Andy: I have essentially been in education in one form or another for my whole career. After completing an Honours degree in Psychology I worked as an Assistant Psychologist in a residential school and care home in Scotland. This involved supporting the care of children who were out of their home due to trauma and were residents at the care home and receiving education at the school. While this was an incredibly challenging and rewarding job, the pull of Australia was too much and I signed up to do a Masters in Special Education at Macquarie University and moved to Sydney. Since then I have worked in literacy centres delivering one-to-one education to struggling readers and learners. I have held a number of roles from tutor to manager and have thoroughly enjoyed every step.
What drew you to MultiLit?
Andy: There were a few things that drew me to MultiLit. The fact that the programs are based in research and that the research is ongoing was really important. And I was really attracted to the impact that MultiLit has had and continues to have, striving for improvements in Australian education. I was keen to play a small part in that.
I understand you have had some interesting international experiences – can you tell us about those? What did you gain through these experiences?
Andy: I have been very lucky to have worked in, opened and managed learning centres in Switzerland, USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin. I have also spoken at conferences in some pretty cool places, including Singapore and Borneo. Every time I have had the pleasure of travelling for work I have enjoyed the independence it demands, and the unique challenges that working in a different culture throws at you. The need to establish trust with a new group of people while learning about their culture is challenging but fun, as is the need to constantly think on your feet and problem-solve all manner of unexpected challenges. However, one of the biggest things I learned is that when it comes to providing support to the family of a kid who is struggling, no matter where you are in the world, everyone essentially wants the same things; honesty, hard work, passion and trust.
What do you like about your work?
Andy: I love being part of an organisation that has such an impact on Australian education. I enjoy seeing the changes in students’ reading as they go through our programs and hearing about all of the fun, humorous stories of student trials, tribulations and ultimately success. I enjoy working with a team of people who are always striving for excellence, and I enjoy the variety in my days.
What’s something you wish more people knew about literacy?
Andy: I wish the kids who were struggling to read knew that this didn’t make them ‘less than’. With the right help and support from evidence-based practice, the difficulties they are having could become that bit easier.