Nazli's story – film

Nazli’s film demonstrates how students can have high potential in more than one domain. As an EAL/D student from a low socio-economic part of south western Sydney, Nazli strived to become "more than a statistic". A highly motivated student, this film retells Nazli’s high school journey and the talent development programs that helped her thrive.

Watch 'Nazli's Story'

Transcript of Nazli’s Story (7 minutes 7 seconds)

Start of transcript

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this video may contain the images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

Nazli’s Story

(Red logo NSW Government against blue film of Nazli bouncing a ball)


Nazli Hocaoglu – Graduate, Prairiewood High School

Nazli – I’m a female, I live in a low socio-economic area, I am a non-English speaking background person, I was constantly feeling as though I was a statistic and my motivation was that I didn’t want to be that statistic. That was the ember that really ignited my fire to say, hey, I want to be equal.

Alan Maclean – Ex Principal, Prairiewood High School

Alan – Nazli was a natural school captain, from the get-go, even in the younger years. Optimistic, enthused about learning, enthused about social justice, making connections with people.

Alison Poole – PDHPE Teacher, Prairiewood High School

Alison – She was emotionally and socially mature beyond her years. The fact that she could communicate with anybody and everybody from various year groups, made her one of the most popular leaders we’ve ever had.

Kimberley Oates - Teacher, Prairiewood High School

Kimberley – Highly intelligent, very social and very proactive in her wanting to do the best for herself but for her school and her family.

Alison – Even in my class I still remember her being called Mrs Prime Minister.

Antonia – It's a very intimidating environment when you're not at the top of the food chain when you when you really think you are.

Benefits of extra-curricular activities


Nazli – I was involved in so many extra-curriculars at school and it was so important to me because I was getting so much out of it.

Kimberley – Nazli’s had many opportunities outside of the school context to develop her skills in being a great leader but also develop her skills in how she’s going to connect for the future. Lots of her volunteer work, her public speaking work, her debating work, set her up in a really good skill base for her to go on and achieve these amazing degrees in law and being able to connect with some of the global entities that she’s worked with through Harvard Law and different organisations and advocacy groups.

Nazli – The public speaking and debating component was very important to me as well because it allowed me to have the confidence to be able to talk to people about in-depth problems and be able to articulate myself in the way that I needed to. I was then able to be surrounded by people who were on the same level as me, had the same interests and then as a result we were able to work together to, you know, create change in our own communities once we left.

Alan – On one level all children ought to be as heavily involved in extra-curricular activities as they can within the school environment. It creates opportunities for connection, it allows for relationships to be built across peer groups, across year groups. It allows for development of relationships to be built with teachers in a different setting.

Alison – Nazli went from being very much the raw beginner in volleyball to being one of the best middle blockers in New South Wales.

Nazli – I was playing for our state. I then went on to continue playing volleyball throughout high school, won two gold medals and I was an elite sports player and before this I used to roll my eyes at sport, oh my God I have to run.

Alison You develop as a person, you get to connect with other people that you may normally never connect with. You may also go on experiences whether city, country, overseas, that you may never get to do.

Nazli – Slowly but surely it kind of just snowballed into this big thing where I was on an advisory panel for the NSW Government providing advice on what young people wanted.

Alison I still have not seen any other student obtain an Order of Australia for Community Service at 17 years of age.

Nazli – I never did anything for recognition I did it because it made me feel good and I felt like I was creating change regardless of how small it was at the time.

Supporting high potential and gifted students

Kimberley – Some of the areas that teachers can really look at in terms of identifying young people that have potential, the level of communication and engagement.

Alan – Looking at intellect, motivation to serve, a willingness to work with others to achieve great things and then of course a school climate or culture that encourages young people to expand and to thrive and to grow into those opportunities.

Nazli – If there is one message that I could give to teachers of New South Wales, it would be to remember that every student that you have is an individual and that there is no blanket syllabus that will be able to cater to everyone who is in your class. My public speaking and debating teacher was I think an integral part of my entire high school career because she actively went out of her way to give me extra resources to really feed my brain with things that I genuinely cared about.

Kimberley – For the last couple of years I’ve definitely taken on the role of mentoring and supporting Nazli. I’ve been able to act not just as her classroom teacher but also as somebody within the school context that she can come and talk to, bounce ideas off. Someone she can talk to when things don’t go to plan. I remember a number of conversations with Naz about saying ‘you cannot stay up till 2’o’clock every morning studying, and yes, you’re doing 14 units, and you’re wonderfully intelligent and you’re about to go to the state championships next week for volleyball and you’ve got public speaking coming up, state debating, how do we manage those things. How do we get some strategies for you to achieve all of these great things.

Nazli – I’m currently studying my Master’s for International law at University of London so my future is being a changemaker for people that are too scared to create that change themselves.

Alan – I think we’ve been able to, by design or accident or a little bit of both, were able to provide Nazli in her school years with a journey that allowed her to grow from high potential to high achieving in all sorts of domains, academic, social, fundraising etc etc.

Alison – Invaluable, to have her come back and talk about some of the things that she’s done, where she’s come from and what she’s achieved. So students have something to aim for and they can see someone real who’s done it.

Nazli – As the saying goes, it takes a village, it really does. I found what really made me tick and my passion and I just jumped on that wave and I just rode it out and that’s exactly why I was able to get to where I am today. Because I found my passion and I had that huge support system and I think those are the two most important things for success.


Find the potential

Develop the talent

Make the difference

Copyright 2020 NSW Department of Education

End of transcript

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

  • If Nazli was a student in your school, how would you provide talent development programs in all domains of potential to support her?
  • What could be included in the professional learning you provide for your staff to support Nazli and students like her?
  • How could you address the needs of students from all backgrounds when providing access to extension and extracurricular programs?

For teachers:

  • High potential and gifted students may choose social acceptance over academic success, impacting on their achievement in the classroom. Emeritus Professor Miraca Gross refers to this as a ‘forced choice dilemma’. Why do you think this did not happen in Nazli's case?
  • As a student, Nazli had high potential across all the domains. What further support did the school provide to facilitate the translation of her high potential into high performance?
  • During your career you will meet (or may have already met) a student who wants to be involved in everything. How would you cater for this student’s learning and wellbeing needs? What strategies do you think would be effective?


  • Teaching and learning


  • Implementation

Business Unit:

  • Teaching, Learning and Student Wellbeing
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