Brisbane high-school students are learning about human rights and discrimination from a survivor of the Holocaust, thanks to their teacher Melanie Ralph.
In just three years, Miss Ralph has connected Indooroopilly State High School students with groups and individuals from all walks of life to enrich their learning.
Inspired by her experience of teaching in a Jewish community in Vancouver, Canada, Miss Ralph contacted a local rabbi who put her in touch with living historians who were invited to teach students about the value of empathy and standing up against prejudice and discrimination.
“Wherever I am, I’m thinking about how we can bring the community into the classroom or get the kids out of the classroom to learn from other people,” says Miss Ralph.
Miss Ralph’s dedication to providing real-world learning for her students has led to her being named a finalist for the 2018 QCT Excellence in Teaching Award.
In one of her English units on ageism, Miss Ralph escorts students to a local aged-care facility, where they interview residents and publish a book that features stories told to the students, which is then gifted to the centre.
“Melanie has exceptional communication skills, which are most evident in her warm and animated nature with her deaf students,” says colleague Hillary Scroope.
Miss Ralph works alongside highly skilled interpreters to establish positive relationships between herself and her students, which she understands is vital to their success and inclusion.
“I have a sign actually, for me, Miss Ralph. They made a sign for me three years ago, I was very flattered,” said Miss Ralph, “I’m told it means ‘relaxed’.”
Miss Ralph’s passion for supporting deaf students inspired her to lead a professional development workshop for other staff about using ICT to better engage deaf students in ‘spoken’ assessment tasks. The workshop was part of a series about the use of ICTs in the classroom, run under Melanie’s aptly named ‘Highway to Dell’ program.
When asked about her future plans Miss Ralph said, “I don’t want to leave the classroom, that’s where I’m happy.” She plans to explore the new Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher certification process from next year.
Congratulations Miss Ralph on being named a finalist for the 2018 Excellence in Teaching Award.