Graduate Story: Natalie McKay
Year 3/4 Teacher, Tathra Public School
St Mary's Catholic College, Casino
Bachelor of Education (Primary), now available as Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (Primary)
Natalie McKay gets flashbacks every time she walks through the Tathra Public School gates: this is the school she went to growing up on the NSW South Coast. Just months after graduating and less than 12 days out from the start of term one, Natalie was offered her first permanent teaching position here.
"It's a wonderful twist of events to be at Tathra, particularly so early in my career. I was one of those people who always knew what they wanted to do. I just knew I was going to be a teacher.
"Teaching is an amazing career. Every day is so different. There is no possible way to get sick of it. The kids are so excited to see you and you know you're making their day, and they're making yours.
"You have to put a lot of time into preparation and lesson plans but it's worth it. Everyone at Tathra Public has been really supportive. They haven't had too many first year teachers. Despite being a small school they've accommodated for my needs really well by giving me extra relief time, off-class time, a mentor, and I get to go into the classrooms of the more experienced teachers. Everyone has been willing to share their programs and ideas with me.
"I look at more experienced teachers and think, 'I want to be you'. But I know you can't put an old head on young shoulders. I just have to be patient and soak it all in."
Natalie completed most of her degree at the Gold Coast campus.
"The benefit of studying there meant I did pracs in New South Wales and Queensland schools, so I got familiar with both education systems. I always put my hand up when there were opportunities to go into schools. The more professional experiences you get the better. From that I got a paid job as a teacher's aide, which is also good experience.
"I loved the Gold Coast campus. It's the 'uni with the view'. The campus is small so I knew everyone in class and all the teachers knew our names. All the staff were really approachable. I loved my degree. The units and content were relevant."