Tagai State College, Saibai Island Campus
A passion for working with children led former childcare worker Belinda Crook to a teaching placement on one of Queensland’s most remote islands, where she has made an inspirational difference.
Teaching on Saibai Island, just 4km from Papua New Guinea in the Torres Strait, has been both rewarding and challenging for the second-year teacher, who says she will remember the experience, and what the local community has taught her, for the rest of her life.
Belinda (pictured above on the right, with teacher aide Karowa Waia on the left) is one of three teachers from Tagai State College’s Saibai Island campus nominated for a Queensland College of Teachers Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award.
The Years 4 to 6 teacher has played a key role in her campus’s push for students to increase their digital technologies skills through robotics and coding.
She provides students with support before and after school, seeks regular feedback to help her reflect on her practice and has developed individual curriculum plans and intensive programs for her pupils in consultation with other Tagai State College staff, parents and carers.
At lunchtime she and fellow teacher Jordan Tomelty run a drama lesson once a week and together they have also started a cross-country running club, after they found themselves being joined by students on the weekends and outside of school on their regular runs.
Belinda has also embraced community life and is thankful for what she has learnt.
“They make fun out of what they have got and they don’t need these big fancy things to have fun. I think that personally has made me appreciate things a lot more,” she says.
“I have learnt so much from when I first came up to now. My learning journey – personal and professional – I believe has come a long way.”
Belinda has joined the local basketball team, regularly takes part in community events and has taken books to different parts of the island to read to children outside of school hours. She also takes part in the school’s homework club.
She says she loves teaching because it is challenging.
“You are always thinking, you are always reflecting … thinking ‘How can I do better?’,” she says.
“Just like the curriculum – the curriculum hasn’t always been the same; it’s always developing and always changing and I think as a teacher you have that challenge, especially with the 21st century and all of the digital technologies coming into it.”
Belinda is currently studying a Digital Technologies online professional development course.
Congratulations Belinda on your nomination.