Leadership Development Program

Molly’s ‘amazing experience’ teaching in rural South Australia

Monday, April 8th, 2024

“I look back at my first term of teaching compared to my last and cannot believe how far I have come in my teaching journey.”

Molly Smith credits Teach For Australia’s employment-based Masters pathway for her “exponential growth” as a teacher in just two years.

She relocated from Melbourne, Victoria, to teach Mathematics and Science at Tintinara Area School in South Australia as part of our 2022 Cohort of the Leadership Development Program.

“It was a demanding experience as I worked full time whilst studying full time; however, the support provided was phenomenal and allowed me to excel in both my teaching at school as well as my university course,” she said.

“My mentors – at school, TFA and ACU – were all extremely supportive and provide numerous opportunities for reflection, brainstorming, emotional support and advice.”

‘The best way to get into education’

Molly applied for Teach For Australia’s program soon after graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Genetics) and a Diploma of Languages (French) from Monash University.

While she had always been interested in education and teaching, she felt even more motivated to pursue the career path during the COVID lockdowns.

“The program was definitely a tough two years with constant university deadlines on top of school admin and the day-to-day responsibilities of teaching,” she said.

“But being able to teach full time allowed my growth as a teacher to excel exponentially, compared to how I think I would have gone with just a university program with smaller placements.

“If you are passionate about teaching, Teach For Australia’s program is the best way to get into the education field. You learn so much in a short amount of time and it’s so fulfilling.”

Standout moments

Reflecting on key highlights from her two years at Tintinara Area School, Molly said it was a “huge win” to see many students go from a negative mindset towards mathematics to feeling more confident – and reporting they actually enjoyed her lessons.

“Another standout moment was in my second year of the program when I organised a Science Fair. We set it up just like the American movies – down at the local hall, with poster boards on tables displaying their different experiments,” she said.

“The whole school, teachers, parents and other community members visited the hall to see and learn about what each student researched. It was fantastic to see our secondary students communicating and presenting their information to fellow students as well as parents and teachers.”

A new community

Hailing from Melbourne, Molly had never lived in a rural town and said it was an adjustment to life in the city. While she has returned to her home state since completing the program, she said living in Tintinara was an “amazing experience”.

“The community was extremely welcoming and supportive. I loved getting to meet all the different people among the community and I learnt a lot more about the farming industry,” Molly said.

“I got involved in the local sport quickly which helped me integrate and settle into the community.”

Her advice for anyone considering a move to rural South Australia for TFA’s program is that it might be daunting, but it might also change your life.

“One quote that I love is ‘Change is the only constant’. Change can be extremely scary and nerve wracking, but without it, we never experience anything new and different,” she said.

“Be open to all the possibilities and keep an open mind – you never know what you will find!”

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