A former Royal Australian Navy combat systems supervisor who worked in sonar, radar and Chinese diplomacy has been named one of Queensland’s most outstanding teachers less than three years after he started at a Gold Coast school.
Dean Ryschka’s decision to change careers to influence the next generation is reaping rewards at Queensland Academies – Health Sciences (QAHS), where students are achieving world-class academic results and are thriving outside the classroom in demanding and fun physical activities that are building resilience and transforming school culture.
The Chinese and Business Management teacher is a finalist in the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) Excellence in Teaching Awards – the only state government awards recognising teachers across all three schooling sectors and early childhood education.
Mr Ryschka starts each school day by opening up the QAHS gym at 6.30am. He runs high-intensity training three times a week, along with night hikes and regular gym sessions during school holidays, with combined staff and student teams who walk the Gold Coast’s Kokoda Challenge.
Drawing on his previous career, including years of living in China, Mr Ryschka provides real-world lesson scenarios, which helps his students to achieve world-class results in the demanding International Baccalaureate Diploma program. He also works hard to instil the values he learnt in the Navy – courage, honesty, integrity, loyalty and honour – in order to help students succeed.
Outside the classroom Mr Ryschka has reinvigorated the school’s sports program with teacher-versus-student matches, inter-house sports activities, and competitions with visiting Japanese students. After school he provides extra tutoring and leads the Chinese Dragon Dance Troupe.
“I enjoyed being in the Navy, but I thought to myself that there is more out there,” Mr Ryschka says.
“I think with teaching you get out of it what you put into it and I have built a really good rapport with the students because they know I am always there – they know that there are no half-measures; whether it’s Kokoda or whether it’s the training or whether it’s the school work – if I am doing it and I am putting in the effort then I expect the same thing back from them, and I think that works well,” he says.
“There is an understanding [among students]… ‘If Mr Ryschka is doing it then I can do it too’. We are all in this together and I tell my students that … we are on this journey together for three years, so we have got to work together to make this a successful journey.”
The 42-year-old said teaching was the most enjoyable job he has ever had.
“It’s never the same – every single day is different, regardless of the fact that you might be teaching the same content as last year, it is a different cohort of students, every student has their own personality, you differentiate your teaching to reach every individual student, none of them are the same and you get out of it what you put into it. There’s not one aspect that I don’t enjoy – it’s really, really rewarding.”
Congratulations Mr Ryschka on being named a finalist.