He now balances his teaching with a thriving music career, and for Waugh the two passions remain deeply connected.
“I went to a country high school that didn’t really have an arts program at it at all, [but] there was this really passionate group of teachers,” he explains.
“They gave me the opportunity to start performing, and that’s, I suppose, what led me to start doing performance, and ultimately the teaching as well because really at the end of that process I thought, I’d really love to do what those people do and do it for a living because it’s so wonderful and it made such a difference in my life.”
It was years later when Waugh’s mother became ill that he turned back to music, penning and performing a sensitive ballad Heyfield Girl in her honor.
After an audience member recorded and uploaded his performance to YouTube, Waugh’s fan base grew.
Flash-forward a couple of years and Waugh has clocked up impressive accolades including playing festivals, touring, and, most recently, producing an album What We Might Be.
And what do his student critics make of his work when they first stumble across it?
Waugh laughs, recalling students singing one of his songs to themselves.
“I’m really blessed, I work with some great kids, there’s not a mean bone in their bodies.”
Despite initially keeping his music and teaching separate, Waugh now feels by embracing music again, he has been able to encourage his students in their own creativity.
“Everyone can or should have art as an ongoing part of their life story … it helps give you some space in the world and it helps connect you to the world as well.”