With less than two years of teaching under his belt, Tom Patterson certainly has achieved a lot.
When the Marsden State High School manual arts teacher realised that Pasifika families made up approximately 60 per cent of the school community, he became inspired to foster their development through a program he created called Mana@Marsden.
The program helps to break down barriers precluding Pasifika students in the Logan area from gaining future employment, including transport, access to work experience, and cultural-and-self-efficacy.
The program is based on the philosophy of the Polynesian and Māori word ‘mana’, which means prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status and charisma.
Tom enlisted the help of local companies Lindona Design and Construction, Apollo Property Group, All Built Up, Versace Timbers and Bretts Hardware to establish work placements and workshops, an initiative, which has led to over 700 hours of work experiences and multiple students gaining employment for 2019.
Tom also tailored a specific student wellbeing class, held once a week, to address the barriers some students felt in their ability to succeed.
Tom’s supervisor Michael Smith says the program is improving outcomes for the Pasifika students at the school.
“Tom has designed, implemented and worked tirelessly to narrow the achievement gap and provide opportunities for our Pasifika students,” Michael says.
He says the school is now working to scale up Tom’s program to provide opportunities for students interested in other areas.
“Research, ongoing review and refinement of the program will continue as will Tom’s passion to spread the Mana@Marsden message and strategies,” Michael says.
Principal Andrew Peach says Tom is an “exceptionally talented young teacher”.
“In his short time as a teacher, Tom has built partnerships with local businesses to increase opportunities for our students, particularly in the field of construction, especially with his Mana@Marsden program,” Andrew says.
Congratulations Thomas on your nomination.