Leadership Development Program

Tim’s passion for physics inspires students in and out of the classroom

Wednesday, June 7th, 2023

A passion for sharing his love of physics combined with the opportunity to inspire young minds led Timothy Friel to make a career switch to teaching.

Tim relocated from Canberra to teach Mathematics and Physics at Wangaratta High School as part of the Leadership Development Program’s 2022 Cohort.

After gaining his Bachelor of Science (Theoretical Physics) Tim worked in the education field and worked to support female and under-represented populations to maintain their involvement with the STEM sector – following the mantra “if you can see it, you can be it”.

His strong belief that “all students deserve equitable opportunities to be successful in their lives” led him to pursue teaching through TFA’s program.

A surprise standout moment

While he’d entered teaching with a focus on Physics, Tim said one of his standout teaching moments so far was in the Maths classroom.

“In working with my Year 7 Mathematics class last year, in my first year of teaching, I was able to create a positive classroom environment to support the growth of all learners – who achieved at least one year’s growth across the year,” he said.

“This strong improvement was possible because of the highly collaborative staff at my school who were consistently willing to share resources, provide feedback, and spoke positively about the potential of all students.”

Off and racing

In the spirit of inspiring young minds, Tim swapped the classroom for the racetrack during a school excursion to this year’s Melbourne Grand Prix.

Tim joined senior Wangaratta High School students from Physics, Work Related Skills, and Sport and Recreation classes at the event – thanks to free tickets from Melbourne Formula 1’s Driving Learning program and transport support from NE Tracks Local Learning and Employment Network.

But it wasn’t just a fun day out – students were tasked with exploring the applications of physics to race cars, documenting the different aspects of occupational health and safety at a major event, and gained exposure to the diversity of career paths available.

“Students were grinning as F3, F2, F1 and V8 Supercars flew past at speeds above 200 kilometres per hour,” Tim said.

“Several students took the opportunity to sit in F2 cars as they met with mechanics in the pits, while other students explored the Tech Zone with electric vehicles, STEM exhibits and F1 professionals sharing their experiences.

“For days following the excursion, students were talking about their experiences and increased their engagement with their classroom learning.”

A new community

Another standout of the Leadership Development Program for Tim so far has been exploring his new community.

“The Wangaratta community has been so welcoming, and it has been a pleasure to explore the region, when assignments allow,” he said.

“Smiling faces at the local sports centre, amazing cordials from the local Billson’s Brewery, vibrant honey from Beechworth Honey, and fresh produce from local markets have all resulted in an easy transition into this new community.”

About the program

Teach For Australia’s Leadership Development Program recruits and develops high-calibre career changers like Tim, and graduates, to teach in communities where workforce needs are highest.

Participants study their Master of Teaching (Secondary) (Leading Learning) through TFA’s academic partner ACU, while teaching subject areas directly related to their previous studies and supported by mentoring and coaching to accelerate their professional development.

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