Margaret Graham

A dream job

Friday, May 12, 2023
Brenton Stacey
About the Author

Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale University’s Public Relations and Philanthropy Officer. He brings to the role experience as a communicator in publishing, media relations, public relations, radio and television, mostly within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific and its entities.

Grads like Margaret rate teaching (and our courses) #1

A community that cares. This is how alumna Margaret Graham describes her new workplace, Noosa Christian College. The Year 5 teacher feels the staff members have “confidence in my ability and back my decisions.” A smaller school, with about 400 students across the primary and secondary campuses, seems a good fit for a teacher in their first year. Margaret also rates her experience at Avondale highly because of the support she received from the staff members here. “The lecturers had a lot of time for you. I got to graduate: that’s a testament to them.”

Students like Margaret have since completed a federal government Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching survey about graduate outcomes. Their responses—almost 93 per cent “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with a statement about the quality of the course—rank our teaching courses as number one for overall satisfaction compared to the 45 other universities and higher education providers offering a similar course. The national average is about 75 per cent.*

A commitment to care “is the way we do things here,” says the head of the School of Education and Science, Dr Sherry Hattingh. “We’re enacting the values of Avondale and our calling as teachers.” The rankings “encourage us to grow best practice. Relationships are what make teaching effective, so we choose to practice this in our workplace by building and developing these.”

Margaret, only 18 years of age at the time, had limited experience and little confidence when she started studying primary teaching. The big turning point came during her last placement—an eight-week block in a Year 5 classroom at Avondale School. The teacher, alumnus Steve Platt, became a mentor. “If I wanted to try something new, or if I wasn’t sure about something, he’d make time to answer my questions. It really helped me apply theory to practice.”

Now Margaret’s a role model for 20 children. “I’m very aware of the things I say and do. I’m not perfect, of course— I try my best to be kind and not grumpy so they can see that’s how we should treat others.” Margaret seeks to build genuine relationships with her students. “I want them to know I care and, at least for the six hours a day I have them, that they are my number one priority.”

Photograph: Anita Mitchell-Kerr.

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