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6 March 2017

Taking the plunge into teaching

After a successful career in plumbing, Associate Josh Jones is finally fulfilling his dream of becoming a teacher.

Despite wanting to become a teacher at a young age, Josh Jones went into a career in plumbing. Now, a member of Teach For Australia’s Cohort 2016, he has taken the plunge into teaching and is loving every bit of it.

In Year 9, Josh knew he wanted to become a teacher when he grew up.

Unfortunately, though, a conversation with one of his teachers at the time drove him away from this goal:

“One day a teacher who I trusted and looked up to told me that being a teacher was awful. He said the pay was terrible and I’d hate it. So I trusted him, I forgot about my dream and lost my way,” he said.

This comment had a profound effect on Josh and his dream. He slowly became disengaged from education and left school early.

“After leaving school I got a job on a fishing boat. I liked fishing and I suppose that was my backup dream,” said Josh.

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After a while Josh decided he was tired of getting seasick so he completed a trade in plumbing.

“I was ready to take any apprenticeship and when the plumbing job was advertised I applied and got it,” he said.

He enjoyed plumbing and later started up his own business.

“I really liked meeting and helping people who were in some very sticky situations,” he said.

The hardest part of the job for Josh, however, was charging clients enough for his family to make a living.

“I wanted to do a lot of the work for free, as most of my customers were pensioners or close friends. It was challenging. You have to be ruthless to run a successful business and I am way too soft,” said Josh.

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While he was a plumber, Josh inadvertently pursued his old dream of teaching.

He taught plumbing at TAFE and started a pre-apprenticeship plumbing program at South West Institute of Technology – a program that gave high school students a chance to enter into the plumbing industry.

“I saw and heard about so many young people at school who were completely disengaged from the material they were meant to be learning,”

“I knew I could make plumbing relevant for them whilst encouraging them to continue learning the important literacy and numeracy skills that they were struggling with at school,” said Josh.

It was in this teaching and mentoring role that Josh flourished. He loved teaching students who were disengaged from school like he once was.

This steered him towards education again.

By this stage, Josh had two kids and a career, so going back to study wasn’t going to be easy – especially given that he had never written an academic essay before.

“I decided that if I was going to put that much effort in then I wanted to study something that I was really interested in,” he said.

Josh completed an undergraduate degree in ancient history online via Macquarie University, an achievement he believes was only possible because of the support he received from his partner:

“My wife was the one who really made it possible for me to study. I had the drive but she gave me the time, space and encouragement I needed,” he said.

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Despite the dual challenges of full-time study and parenting, the pair worked tirelessly to ensure Josh could achieve his goal.

“It didn’t matter that we had a toddler and a new baby when I first began studying, we worked through it together. If the baby woke early, I’d stick him in the pram and blast my lectures at the poor neighbours as I walked him around Bunbury,” he said.

When Josh finally finished his undergraduate degree, he knew that he wanted to teach more than anything.

“I was faced with driving up to Perth, which is over two hours every day, to complete a graduate diploma in education. Luckily, I stumbled across the Teach For Australia program one day and applied,” he said.

Josh lacked confidence and didn’t think he would get into the competitive program when he applied.

“My wife helped me apply and made sure I was nicely dressed for the interview. She believed I’d get in even if I didn’t,” he said.

Then, one day in 2015, Josh was accepted into the Leadership Development Program.

“To be finally told that I’d been accepted as an Associate was a dream come true,”

“I was in a classroom teaching before I would have even started my graduate diploma,” he said.

Josh is an Associate at Pinjarra Senior High School in Western Australia. He is currently teaching history, humanities, physical education and metal work.

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After just one year, he became a shared year coordinator.

“I’m very grateful to Teach For Australia because the Associate position has allowed me to get into the classroom earlier than any other pathway,”

“I’m really looking forward to finishing my studies at the end of 2017. I will proudly call myself a Teach For Australia graduate,” he said.

Josh can’t wait to continue his career as a teacher.

“I know that teaching is something I will do until I retire,”

“My sons have never known me not studying, so I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my family,” he said.

Josh now dreams of one day teaching in a school where his whole family can be involved:  “I want to play sport with my students and sons after school.”

Josh believes that his career change from plumbing to teaching is one of the best decisions he has ever made.

He looks forward to raising the status of the teaching profession and hopes to convince his students to never give up on their dreams.

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