Snow birds fly home

Published 23 November 2006

Eight graduating student teachers returned home to Canada last weekend after spending the past year in a teacher training program at Southern Cross University’s Tweed Gold Coast campus.

The student teachers, who specialised in history, geography, business studies and English, each completed a Graduate Diploma of Education during the year.

They flew out of a northern winter in February 2006 to enjoy a year in the Australian sun and have now headed back into winter to seek out teaching positions in Canada.

Ironically, after leaving a country in the grip of the worst drought in recorded history, three of them returned home to Ontario only to encounter one of the worst snow storms to hit the area in the last century.

During their stay in the Tweed area the student teachers managed to fit a lot in, climbing Mt Warning, playing golf at Penny Ridge, exploring Springbrook waterfalls and Natural Bridge and visiting Cairns, Darwin and Kakadu.

The group is well known to staff and students at Tweed River High, Mt St Patrick College, Wollumbin High, St Joseph’s College, Kingscliff High and Banora Point High, where they completed their block practicums.

Recruited through the CANTEACH program, the eight Canadians have joined a group of 40 local student teachers now preparing to teach secondary subjects such as English, science, visual arts, computing studies and human society and its environment (HSIE).

Academic liaison officer in the School of Education, Dr Neville Jennings, said the Canadians had added a further dimension to this year’s diverse group of student teachers, who had cultural backgrounds from the USA, Nepal, the Philippines, Austria, Peru and New Zealand.

All had been overwhelmingly positive about their experiences in the Tweed area, Dr Jennings said, and most had expressed an interest in returning here in future years.

Asked what they had liked most about their stay in the region their answers ranged from the scenic beauty and friendly locals, to the small campus where teachers know you personally and the proximity of the airport as a launching pad for further travels during semester breaks, Dr Jennings said.

This is the second cohort of student teachers to pass through the Tweed Gold Coast campus. Students who began the program last year have since picked up permanent teaching positions, including at Tambo (Western Queensland), Upper Coomera, Kingscliff and in the UK.

Kendall Haverland, of Cabarita Beach, one of this year’s graduating students, this week finished her final practicum at Kingscliff High.

She said she was looking forward to getting an employment offer from the Department of Education and Training ‘any day now’.

Kendall has applied to teach as far out west as possible, hopefully at Moree or Broken Hill, because of the extra financial incentives for teaching there and for the credits she could earn towards a transfer to a highly sought after area like the Northern Rivers after three years.

She said schools in more remote areas were also attractive because they had a much higher proportion of young, energetic and innovative teachers, making it a rewarding teaching experience.

Anyone interested in studying education at Southern Cross University next year is invited to attend an information night on the Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and Graduate Diploma of Education at the University’s Tweed Gold Coast campus on Monday, December 4, from 6.30pm (NSW time) in Harvard Room 1.

For further information contact Renee Parker 02 6626 9263 or Dr Neville Jennings 07 5506 9344.

Photo: Canadian students who have just completed their studies, from left: Paul de Pauw, Andrew Cassone, Eric Chanyi, Holly Anstett, Esther Helwig, Tiffany Shabatura, Aaron Gauthier, Roman Nahirny and academic liaison officer Dr Neville Jennings.

Media contact: Zoe Satherley Southern Cross University media officer, 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.