Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?
I have had a strong sense of social justice since I was young. I completed an Arts degree and went straight to work in the non-profit non-gov sphere. I spent three years working at Jenny’s Place women’s refuge and then four years working for Newcastle Family Support. While working in these areas, I saw that almost every person I worked with shared a common trait: they had not had a successful time at school. This appeared to have a negative impact on their ability to access a range of life choices. While still working (and being pregnant – I know, what what I thinking!) I saddled up for a Dip Ed, intending to Save The World ™. Still working on it.
I’m currently the principal of a rural school on the outskirts of Tamworth, NSW. I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve been a principal for 20. I’ve held a range of positions in schools, from casual to permanent part time, from RFF teacher to principal.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
I’m fortunate to work with a staff that brings a very broad range of skills to the table, and to work in and with a community that generally supports the school to be the best it can be. It’s a cliche that the students make it worthwhile, but they do.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
To be honest, I see this as a time of churn and challenge. There are societal forces playing out that are beyond our control and we just need to buckle up, because the ride could get bumpy. We are living through a time of shrinking resources, a time of global challenge, both environmentally and politically. As educators, we cannot help but be affected by this. We are affected because so many children world-wide are still denied an education. We are affected because our political leaders are grappling with a world that seems to have so many major challenges on so many levels. We are affected because budgets world-wide are shrinking. There appears to be a general lack of focus about our key purpose in some places, and in some areas, Australia being one of them, a lack of societal respect for the teaching profession.
It sounds very negative, I know. The challenges are large and global and the rewards often appear small and local. But they are worthwhile nonetheless. It’s yet another cliche to say the main reward is to be entrusted with the lives of people’s most precious beings: their children. But cliches are cliches because they are so often true. So there’s that.
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
Fund schools appropriately. Recognise the knowledge and passion that teachers bring to their job every day. Make stronger connections between organisations that have the welfare of children at their core. Be multi-disiplinary. Celebrate the fun and joy in learning more and test scores less.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
It’s always interesting to read of people’s special interests and the teaching and learning environments that they exist in. This account allows people to showcase their passions and their special skills. I hope to showcase my capacity to get out of bed and get to work each morning without any disasters. Fingers crossed!