Future Leaders Program

Nurturing leadership pipeline in regional, rural, and remote schools

Wednesday, April 10th, 2024

Forty-four teachers from outer regional, rural and remote schools across the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland will participate in workshops in Darwin this week, as part of Teach For Australia’s Future Leaders Program.

The one-year program is designed for teachers aspiring to become school leaders, building their leadership capabilities and facilitating their career progression in education.

Amidst concerns of a widespread loss of leadership in Australian schools, TFA National Program Manager, Viveka Simpson said the initiative was helping retain and grow the leadership pipeline.

“By investing in and empowering existing teachers in the local area, we’re strengthening the leadership capacity within the school community, particularly in regional, rural, and remote schools,” Ms Simpson said.

“Being well-established in the area, these aspiring school leaders already understand the unique challenges at play and are best placed to bring tangible and lasting change to their schools with a sharpened leadership mindset.”

In its fourth year, the FLP offers individualised coaching, community building activities, and hands-on learning experiences, empowering participants to build a network of supportive, like[1]minded educators.

In a survey of Cohort 2023, 91 per cent of program’s Alumni reported seeing development in their overall leadership abilities since completing the program, while 96 per cent would recommend the program to other aspiring leaders.

More than 50 per cent of program participants have also been promoted to positions of leadership or higher responsibility within a year of completing the program.

The success of the Future Leaders Program is in large part due to the exceptional calibre of its participants.

Among these educators is Marnie Hopkins, who is currently the Acting Assistant Principal at Katherine South Primary School.

Her dedication to students, staff and the community at the school saw her honoured with the title of the Northern Territory Primary Educator of the Year at the 2022 Teaching in the Territory Excellence Awards.

Marnie’s deep passion for education stems from her parents who whilst running the family farm in rural NSW, made sure her and her four siblings mastered their times tables and completed their homework and spelling drills.

“I was raised with the belief that education meant opportunity and so I was fortunate to be accepted into University in Wagga Wagga as part of an early entry program to study primary teaching,” she said.

After nine years teaching in a close-knit farming community, Marnie and her husband and 18- month-old son then travelled to Katherine in 2002 and fell in love with the landscape and the community.

“My husband and I are now empty nesters and call Katherine and its region home. We love the lifestyle, the people and particularly the fishing and outdoors!”

Having taught for around 30 years, Marnie has held various roles in education, including a classroom teacher, a special education teacher in mainstream and special schools, an advisor in Big Rivers Region and a senior teacher.

More recently, as acting Assistant Principal, Marnie oversaw some school-wide changes that have are having significant impact on students, staff, and families. Through the experience, she discovered her ability to make a bigger difference in a leadership role.

“I love working with our staff, building their capacity and providing them with opportunities to grow and develop as educators and leaders,” continued Marnie.

“I have had tremendous mentors and I firmly believe that relationships are the key to a quality education, and I value the connections I have made with my students, staff and the community over the years.”

When asked what keeps her going with 30 years of teaching, Marnie’s answer is instantaneous.

“The kids. I have never lost sight of why I got into teaching in the first place.”

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