In Australia, the postcode that you’re born in can radically impact your whole future – determining the type of education you can access.
It can be challenging for communities facing disadvantage, such as low socioeconomic or rural and remote areas, to attract and retain teachers.
In particular, securing subject specialists with STEM backgrounds is a widespread and longstanding challenge for regional, rural and remote schools.
Teach For Australia builds sustained partnerships with regional, rural and remote schools across Australia, bringing in people with STEM expertise to fill teaching vacancies in these communities.
In the past year alone, we’ve placed 161 new Leadership Development Program Associates in classrooms around the country where they’re needed the most.
As revealed in TFA’s latest Impact Report, 50% of Cohort 2022 Associates are qualified to teach in-demand STEM subjects.
In addition, 67% of Cohort 2022 Associates with non-regional or rural origin relocated to regional or rural communities to take up their teaching jobs.
This includes Molly Smith, who relocated from Melbourne, Victoria, to teach Mathematics and Science at Tintinara Area School in South Australia this year.
Molly holds a Bachelor of Science (Genetics) and a Diploma of Languages (French) from Monash University and had always been interested in education and teaching. But after COVID lockdowns, she felt even more motivated to pursue teaching and decided to apply to Teach For Australia’s program.
“I had a really positive education experience with some fantastic teachers which was the beginning of my inspiration. I was a high school tutor for a few years and absolutely loved working with students and seeing them grow and achieve,” she said.
“For me, I enjoy the day-to-day, ‘simple’ things of teaching like getting to know the students, delving into the content and thinking of the best way to teach content.
“I studied a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Genetics, so I can’t wait to teach my genetics topic! But in general, I have always enjoyed science and I am interested in exploring specific STEM projects to engage my students.
“What I really enjoy about teaching STEM is helping students improve their skills such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and research skills.”
TFA Associates like Molly are backed by a support network that enables them to grow into excellent educators – including a Teaching and Leadership coach, an academic advisor, and a dedicated in-school mentor, as well as the broader TFA community.
Molly said relocating from the city to teach in a rural area had been a challenge, but the Tintinara community had been welcoming and she felt well-supported.
“My experience has been fantastic so far. I absolutely love teaching! Everyone I have been in contact with, whether from my school, other schools, TFA and ACU have been supportive and helpful,” she said.
And, she said, teaching at a smaller-sized school offered unique and rewarding opportunities.
“I really love having smaller classrooms because there’s more opportunity to get to know the students really well and interact with them,” Molly said.
“The standout moments have been seeing students grow, gain confidence and see their mindset shift. I had a few students at the start of the year tell me that they hated Math and since then, they have shared more positive comments towards Math lessons – what a win!”