A Queenstown teacher has been recognised with a statewide award for her teaching and leadership excellence.
Alex Burgess-Norris’ pathway to the classroom was via Teach For Australia’s Leadership Development Program (LDP), which brought her to Mountain Heights School from Canberra in 2019 for a two-year placement. The HASS and English teacher is now in her fourth year at the school.
Alex said she was thrilled to be presented with an Australian Council of Educational Leaders Tasmania Branch (ACEL TAS) Early Career Teaching and Leadership award at a ceremony in Hobart last night.
“Teaching is so fulfilling for such a diverse range of reasons,” Alex said. “It’s the relationships with the students, the creativity in preparing lessons, connecting the school with the wider community, opportunities to learn, the fast-paced environment – you’re always on your toes – and the professional collaboration with other teachers.
“And of course the students, who are so resilient and have taught me so much. They’re always keen to give things a go and have a great attitude that we can all learn from.”
Alex decided to make the switch to teaching via TFA following a career in environmental science, and said living and working in Queenstown had offered a real sense of community.
“Queenstown is a small community, and everyone looks after one another. My experience here has really embodied the notion of ‘it takes a village’. You’re more than a teacher – you’re also a coach, mentor, customer, advocate, friendly face on the street,” she said.
Teach For Australia State Manager, Amy Sharp, said Alex was making an important contribution not just to the students in her class but to the community of Queenstown.
“It takes community to work together towards educational equity and I am very proud of the work that Alex and the Mountain Heights School community have been doing to guide and encourage their students to achieve their potential,” Amy said.
“TFA has partnered with Mountain Heights School since 2019. As well as Alex, we currently have 5 Associates teaching at the school, and together with their colleagues they are working hard to support the young people in this great community.”
TFA brings high-quality graduates and career changers to Tasmanian government schools through its two-year Leadership Development Program – helping to fill teaching vacancies predominantly in rural, regional and remote communities across the state.
The participants, known as Associates, receive intensive training to teach in schools while completing a bespoke Master of Teaching, with ongoing coaching and mentoring to accelerate their professional development.
Since partnering with Tasmania’s Department of Education in 2017, TFA has brought 100 high-quality new teachers to Tasmanian government schools. This year there are 18 TFA Associates in their first year and 17 Associates in their second year of the TFA program.