If teachers are the guardians of our future then our future is in good hands. With students aged from three to retirees, these dedicated locals are a credit to their profession.
Teacher in Charge, Bridge Program | Townsville Flexible Learning Centre
A high school with a difference, the Townsville Flexible Learning Centre operates on the belief that all of us have equal rights to have our needs met. The classes are multi-aged and smaller than mainstream high schools with a teacher and a youth worker allocated to each group. Programs include engagement programs for young people who have disengaged from education, years 7-12 classes, vocational courses and the Year 12 certificate.
“The young people we work with have usually had significant difficulties engaging with mainstream education,” says Thalie Carpenter, who is Teacher in Charge of the Townsville Flexible Learning Centre’s Bridge Program. “They may have trauma histories, mental health issues and involvement with the youth justice system. The time spent with us on program is often life-changing as they begin to learn strategies to cope with the difficult things in their lives, and to see that there’s hope for their future.”
The young people Thalie works with have often not felt safe and included in a typical school setting. That’s why the majority of Townsville Flexible Learning Centre engagement program teaching takes place outside the classroom.
“When we conduct activities outside they don’t feel closed in and this reduces their stress,” Thalie says. “We start each day with a meeting conducted in a circle. Every member of the group has the opportunity to be heard in a respectful way as we do our morning check-in. We then prepare and share a meal together. The students relax during the meal process and are able to let go of some of the stressors in their lives and, with a full belly, to focus on the learning activities ahead.”
Thalie has been teaching for 30 years. She initially trained as a primary school teacher and has since added IT qualifications and a Masters in Guidance and Counselling to her skill set. “Some of the young people we work with are the ones in the news,” Thalie says. “They have a rich and complex story and the potential to be engaged, productive members of our community given the chance. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to be part of their journey.
“Yesterday a young man who has never written a story published a book written about some cultural experiences he had as a young fella in the Torres Straits. His smile for the rest of the day was a gold nugget I will carry for a long time!”
For more visit www.youthplus.edu.au
String Teacher | Mount Isa School of the Air | (Photograph Leonie Winks)
When Yvonne Moore first started teaching string music over the airwaves in Charleville in 1991, she had to hold the two-way radio between her knees. These days, thanks to technological advances, she can see her remote students and distance makes little difference.
“I teach violin, viola, cello and double bass to nearly 200 students in the far north west – nine Mount Isa schools in total including Mount Isa School of the Air (MISOTA). It’s at MISOTA I get to teach over the phone and now see the remote students through iConnect. I love to say I teach a whole school, and I do, all of Prairie State School, it’s just halfway from here to Townsville,” Yvonne says. “I’m passionate about music education for remote students and making sure they have the same opportunities as children on the coast. We can’t just pop out somewhere to see a show, so I’ve made it my personal mission to ensure our kids have the same possibilities. You only have to ask great musicians if they’d like to come to the Outback and they’re there. We’ve been fortunate to have James Morrison, John Morrison, Ian Cooper, Opera Queensland, Camerata St John, Deep Blue, ACO and members of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra all visit, perform and workshop with our students.”
Yvonne recalls when the Australian Chamber Orchestra string quartet stayed at one of her student’s farms south of Cloncurry. “After a great Aussie meal, Tippy, yes the great cellist, looked at my student Bella and said, ‘So what would you like to do with your cello?’. She promptly replied, ‘I’m going to be a concert cellist just like you!’ and she’s well on her way to her dream.”
Yvonne had an amazing music teacher growing up and says this helped her decide, at a very young age, that teaching string music was her calling. “My job is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle that I’ve embraced over the past 27 years of string teaching,” she says. “We have the most important job – the beginning. We are the inspiration and it’s our job to instill the love of music into our students. When we offer music, we make kids smarter, independent, organised, and we give them skills for a lifetime.”
For more visit www.mtisasde.eq.edu.au
Paramedic/Registered Nurse and Trainer | breakthru
A community organisation that has been providing services to the disability, mental health and communities sector for over 20 years, breakthru is a community organisation first, with a training arm.
breakthru trainer Margaret Stacy says nothing compares to seeing the faces of students when they have achieved a learning goal and the confidence they then take into their lives.
“I love being a part of supporting disadvantaged learners to become active, contributing and effective members of their community and workforce,” she says.
At the moment, Margaret is teaching classes for a Certificate III in Individual Support, however she also teaches qualifications in Aged Care and Disability, First Aid, CPR, Low Voltage Rescue and Emergency Response in a Care Setting.
“I love that in teaching no two days are ever the same,” Margaret says. “Connecting with my students individually, building rapport and trust with them and in turn building their trust in themselves is one of the most wonderful things about teaching.”
From diverse backgrounds, Margaret says her students are super keen and willing to learn. They are encouraged to express themselves, share their experiences and understandings and participate in role plays, which are always lots of fun.
“I utilise a simulated work environment where the students can practice putting their theoretical knowledge into practical application in a safe environment,” Margaret says. “I also like to use humour and fun activities in the classroom to gain and maintain interest.”
Margaret says it’s never too late to learn and that education and working is a great path to support you when times are tough.
“Every student who graduates and gains employment as a result of their training is a success story for me,” she says. “Knowing they have the skills to sustain them in the workplace and the opportunities to advance in their careers is all the reward I need.”
For more visit www.breakthru.org.au
Sub-Lieutenant | Australian Navy Cadets
Known for better equipping young people for community life by fostering initiative, leadership, discipline and loyalty, the Australian Navy Cadets offers training programs also designed to stimulate an interest in the Defence Force.
Seamanship, sailing, shooting and first aid are among the programs offered, along with adventure training at weekend camps and expeditions and opportunities to visit Navy ships and establishments.
Sub-Lieutenant Josh Wisley teaches sailing, canoeing, powerboating and basic seamanship skills.
“The thing that drew me to instructing is the rewarding feeling I get knowing I’m helping young people achieve goals,” Josh says. “My students are aged 13 to 18 and all have different ways of learning so I try to be creative with instructing. For example, one day I was trying to show cadets how to tack in a classroom environment so I put two chair across from each other and used a broom handle to go through the tacking motions.”
Josh says he know he’s succeeded when all the cadets are having fun doing activities and they’re carried out safely. “My most memorable day teaching was when a cadet, who was getting close to sitting their promotions exam, approached me and said they were having trouble with some of the things in their task book,” Josh says. “I took the time to explain the tasks, after the exam, they thanked me for helping them pass.”
From time to time, opportunities will arise for cadets to carry out periods of continuous training at the TS Coral Sea Unit in South Townsville, other Australian Navy Cadet Units and HMA ships and establishments.
Later in their training, cadets may have the opportunity to undertake some training in specialist categories such as physical training, communications, mechanics and hydrographic surveying.
Parents of teens interested in joining the Australian Navy Cadets are welcome to come to TS Coral Sea on a Friday night, with a parade on from 7 to 10pm.
For more visit www.navycadets.gov.au
Project Facilitator | IN-STeP
A community not-for-profit organisation that has worked in Townsville and surrounding regional centres over the last 20 years, IN-STeP supports individuals to achieve their personal goals. Through Government-funded programs, IN-STeP staff are able to work with people seeking help to navigate education pathway choices.
“The cohort we mainly work with are at times referred to as ‘dis-engaged’ and often have limited options available to them for several different reasons,” says IN-STeP Project Facilitator Monicia Huxley.
“Our approach is not that of another door closing in their face. We go above and beyond to support and nurture our youth to finish the training they have enrolled in, giving them a real sense of personal achievement.
“It’s a common misconception that the students who engage in funded programs are often ‘bad eggs’ but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I like the expression ‘square pegs trying to fit into round holes’. The young people who choose to participate in our programs are generally battling social anxieties, are victims of bullying or have other social barriers that have inhibited their ability to fully engage in traditional education.
“In saying that, we’ve had participants who’ve graduated high school but unfortunately haven’t been able to secure sustainable employment. Ultimately they are individuals who are looking for an opportunity to prove themselves.”
Skills taught at IN-STeP include cover letter writing, interview techniques and life skills such as budgeting and cooking. Also embedded in IN-STeP’s programs is assistance for students who want to gain their Learner License. “Essentially what we do is develop key skills to assist a young person to become an active and contributing member of our community,” Monicia says. “Often a young person is lacking a support network and has been let down a number of times. Helping develop that support network and encouraging a young person to be proactive and make positive choices is a humbling experience.”
For more visit www.in-step.com.au
Lecturer in Indigenous Australian Studies | The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre
Passionate about equality and making a difference to the world, Sharon Moore became a teacher to try to make a lasting impression on her students, particularly those who don’t know much about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“I remember as a university student I was invited to sit on a panel aimed at deconstructing stereotypes associated with being Indigenous and I was hooked,” Sharon says. “From that day on, I knew my task in life was to combat these stereotypes the best way I could, by teaching.”
Sharon is a lecturer for the The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre, which is a teaching, research and study support centre for internal and external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at James Cook University. The Centre offers culturally appropriate student support programs and services that aim to help Indigenous students make the transition from school to university.
Indigenous Australian Studies is a developing field of study and academic inquiry, both nationally and internationally. The Centre has designed a Minor in Indigenous Studies in order to cater for this increasing interest. This Minor offers both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students an opportunity to learn about Indigenous Australia.
“Our students develop a deep understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and knowledge systems in a sequence of study that prioritises Indigenous content, scholarship and voices,” Sharon says. “We expose students to other ways of viewing history, social issues and life in general. Our graduates have gone on to work in fields as diverse as law, education, health care, social work and the media.”
Many students who undertake Sharon’s subject, called Linking Indigenousness, have a desire and thirst to become agents of change in our society. They want to become effective teachers who make a difference in the community.
“To see students take a leap of faith and engage in courageous conversations that are not always easy to discuss is a humbling experience,” Sharon says. “They bring up new ideas that challenge and inspire me, making me re-examine myself and what I stand for. I learn from my students every day.”
For more information please visit www.jcu.edu.au/australian-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-centre
President and Tutor | University of the Third Age
The concept of the University of the Third Age (U3A) started out in France in 1972 as a series of summer schools run by universities to give classes to retired seniors. Much to everyone’s surprise, the seniors flocked to these classes. The word got around and the idea spread throughout Europe, then worldwide. U3A Townsville started in 1987 and last year there were over 450 members.
Each year U3A Townsville president and tutor Graham Collins prepares a series of lectures on different topics that he shows as Powerpoint presentations. Over the years, these have included Plant Evolution, Human Genetics, A History of Plagues, The Rivers of Asia, Everyday Chemistry, Bacteria and Diseases, and a range of topics on molecular biology.
“I find that preparing a class not only keeps my mind active, but I also learn a great deal about the topic I present,” Graham says. “I get the information for my classes from books, magazines, the internet, and from my teaching and research career in Plant Science in the past at Adelaide University.
“The people who come to my classes are all seniors who are keen to catch up on a range of scientific topics.”
People become members of U3A by paying a small annual fee. The organisation is non-profit, so this fee covers the costs of insurance and general administration. Members can then attend any or all of the courses that are provided, which includes cards, beading, writing, painting, investment, and the opportunity to attend courses run by lecturers at James Cook University. As well as mental stimulation, there are exercise classes held almost every day that are tailored to suit seniors.
In contrast to the educational system, there are no entry qualifications and no certificates are awarded. The aim of U3As worldwide is to provide older people with stimulus, companionship and low-cost learning in a supportive, social setting. For those people who find it difficult to attend a U3A either because they live in a remote area or they have a disability, Griffith University runs U3A Online.
For more visit www.members.westnet.com.au/u3atownsville
Owner / Family Day Care Educator | Montessori Home Family Day Care
A qualified early childhood and secondary teacher, Stacey Frossling favours the Montessori method of education. Her Montessori program focuses on practical life skills, enabling children to function wholeheartedly and independently in their everyday life.
“This can be anything from pouring a glass of water, preparing a snack or cleaning a spill to making choices, voicing opinions and recognising and expressing feelings,” Stacey says. “Our routine incorporates simple relaxation, yoga and breathing practices daily, and a weekly outing to our nearby park and playground.”
A Montessori program also has a strong literacy and numeracy focus so the children can be confident and active learners at school and beyond.
Stacey started her own small business, Montessori Home Family Day Care, after having her daughter Anna in 2013.
“I wanted to be Anna’s main care-giver while continuing to pursue my career and helping to support my family,” Stacey says. “I also wanted to empower other mothers to do the same by providing my service as a quality option. The added benefit of being a registered educator is that I have the assistance of a mentor and the coordination unit at Townsville and Regions Family Day Care.”
Stacey’s current group of four children have been with her for almost two years and have formed a very close friendship.
“I’m passionate about the holistic development of children and love fostering their social, emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing,” Stacey says. “What people may not know is that Family Day Care is a safe, certified and regulated care environment, requiring educators to work to similar national standards as Long Day Care Centres, including the delivery of an education program. Because of this, parents can access the government childcare subsidies, making it a very affordable care option.”