Ripley Valley State School teachers Sam Mikolajczyk, Tahlea Williams, Miki Condoleon and Elissa Turner. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Ripley Valley State School teachers Sam Mikolajczyk, Tahlea Williams, Miki Condoleon and Elissa Turner. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Students aren’t the only ones learning at new school

JUST as they mould the 304 young minds at one of Ipswich's newest schools, eager teachers at the start of their careers are learning important lessons every day.

Of the 19 teachers working at Ripley Valley State School, which opened this year, four are recently graduated teachers.

They have been paired up with experienced educators, which will not just bring benefits for them but their students as well.

Principal Naomi Meerwald initially didn't think bringing graduate teachers onto the team would work at the South Ripley primary school.

"As our enrolments grew, I saw an opportunity to actually put some of our highly experienced teachers with some of the young graduates that are coming through and they would cooperatively teach," she said.

"It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community to educate one.

"In doing that, most of teachers are cooperatively teaching so the children aren't getting one teacher, they're actually having two teachers that look over their work.

"In doing that, the teachers are growing themselves and it also means that when they get stuck or they have a query, they're on the spot so the new teachers are learning just in time rather than just in case.

"This means the lessons stick, they learn quicker, they adapt faster and that gives us a better quality teacher earlier. They're already pretty high quality graduates anyway."

Mrs Meerwald said graduate teachers bring an "enthusiasm and energy" and can teach their mentors a thing or two as well.

"When a graduate comes they re-energise the whole team,' she said.

"They bring an opportunity for some of our more experienced teachers to develop their leadership skills and not only impart what they've learnt over the years but also to learn from our graduates.

"They're bringing the latest ways of teaching from the universities to us as well. It's an exchange of information."

It is the first year teaching for Niki Condoleon, Ellissa Turner and Samantha Mikolajczyk while it is Tahlea Williams' second.

The four teachers said the model had worked well in the opening weeks of the term.

"I haven't felt alone in this," Ms Condoleon said.

"It feels like a big community all working together.

"What we're doing day to day is going to impact the future here at Ripley Valley. We're a part of this from the start."

The Year 1 teacher said she didn't enjoy her primary school years.

"My Year 1 teacher was absolutely amazing and I think from then I just had it in my head 'oh I just want to be like my Year 1 teacher'," she said.

"I wanted to make a positive difference on other children's lives and I wanted them to have a love of learning and a love of school unlike how I felt."

It is a similar story for Year 5 teacher Ms Williams.

"I didn't feel connections with my teachers," she said.

"So I think that was important to me to establish connections early and make children love learning and get excited about more than just something they had to go and do.

"We're creating what we want the school to be and that's quite special."

Year 2 teacher Ms Mikolajczyk said she had found her place in education after exploring other careers.

"I tried a range of job options before I started teaching and none of them really clicked with me," she said.

"I then enrolled in education and the first day of placement, it just felt right."

Year 3 teacher Ellissa Turner said the whole school community was working together.

"In my experience with schooling, I grew up not believing in myself or my learning abilities and it took me until late high school to realise that all learners are capable of excellence," she said.

"This was only because I finally had teachers willing to go that extra mile for me, they made me feel valued and provided the necessary support for my growth and success as a learner.

"Now, as a teacher, I want to be that person for my students and I want to start at the foundation to give them the support they need from early years and beyond."


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