Beginning teachers are choosing to stay longer in rural, regional and remote schools across Queensland thanks to an outstanding program led by a state teaching awards finalist.
Approximately one-third of third-year teachers who were part of the Kelvin Grove Teacher Education Centre of Excellence (KGTECE) are now in leadership positions in the regional, rural and remote schools in which they were employed through the KGTECE. Another one-third choose to stay due to career opportunities and personal fulfillment, and another one-third are choosing to move elsewhere, but not necessarily back to southeast Queensland.
It is a significant breakthrough for the state and for KGTECE Director and Kelvin Grove State College Deputy Principal, Linda Eager.
Her outstanding leadership of school students across Prep to Year 12, and of teacher education students at university, has seen her named as a finalist in the Queensland College of Teachers Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning TEACHX Award.
Mrs Eager said the transition program offered through KGTECE takes high-potential third-year teacher education students and provides them with quality mentorship, targeted professional learning programs as well as bespoke coaching. The program offered ensures these students are in locations outside of southeast Queensland that meet their personal and professional needs. She believes tailoring the initiative to suit the unique requirements of each individual is the key to retention success.
“Part of the program is that they know what to expect,” Mrs Eager said. “They have done their final professional experience at a school where, in the majority of cases, they will be permanently employed. What happens is they know the community; they know the school, they know what classes they are going to be teaching, so they are not really a beginning teacher when they start. They have undergone a beautiful transition and they feel welcomed and supported,” Mrs Eager said.
Mrs Eager’s passion for teaching, which started at five years old when she lined up her stuffed animals to teach, was affirmed when she taught her first Year 2 class. She still remembers the joy in her students’ faces as they collected tadpoles to record their life cycle.
“From the moment I walked through that classroom door to today, I have never lost that joy … it is as exciting as it was nearly 30 years ago,” Mrs Eager said.
She moved from a primary school setting to teach Mathematics, Science and Visual Arts to a Year 8 and 9 composite boys’ class made up of students who experienced significant social and emotional challenges. The success of the class cemented her reputation as a middle years’ leader before her next move to Kelvin Grove State College. It was during her leadership there where the middle school enrolments skyrocketed from 590 to over 1550 pupils in over a decade.
Regardless of where she has taught or led, one aspect has remained the same—her passion for fostering a positive culture for students and staff and ensuring that the social, emotional and academic needs of all children are always met.
Mrs Eager, who works with 150 preservice teachers annually through KGTECE, is also responsible for a host of other initiatives that significantly contribute to Kelvin Grove State College’s excellent reputation. She leads the college’s Collegial Learning program, which is targeted at pre-service teachers to aspiring leaders at KGSC. She has created ‘Collegial Cafés teacher discussion groups as well as an Academic Pathways strategic initiative which brought even more students to the College. In addition, she is responsible for the creation of the college-wide Inclusive Curriculum Support (ICS) department and the subsequent ICS Expert teaching team, and she is a regular panellist to accredit national higher education programs for the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership.
As a finalist, Mrs Eager received $500 for professional development.