Beginning Teacher of the Year 2011

yay-6660308-001Tom Price School Teacher Scott Sullivan has been named WA Beginning Teacher of the Year for 2011. Scott spoke to OUTinPerth about the award and what it’s like being an out school teacher in a regional town.

‘The award recognises teachers in first three years in teaching for outstanding practices in any field. It was a process of 45 applicants at the start they had a selection panel that then minimised it down to ten and I was part of that ten. In terms of the application, I worked with my principal and we had to put in a five page application form. It was based on criteria of professional knowledge and what else I had done in the community and that sort of thing. From there they read the applications, then I had a 45 minute phone interview with two panel judges who asked us three questions based on my teaching capacities and then an improvisation question as well – so it was quite intense actually. So after that interview I thought ‘ooh I’m not going to win it’ – I felt really bad actually.

‘They chose me based on my involvement within the school frameworks, I’m part of a lot of committees like the info tech committee, the arts Phys-ed and also my involvement in the community. What I’ve actually been recognised for in terms of, as far as the Department is concerned is my increase in Aboriginal attendance for the school.

‘Basically I’ve used a lot of lot of relationship building, I think with Aboriginal students you need to build those relationships so they have a safe environment.

‘I love the building of relationships but I think that that’s the key in today’s society with the increase in divorces and social things that are going on, children need that support base somewhere. That’s what I enjoy doing cause the kids aren’t going to be able to learn their maths or English or anything like that without being comfortable and confident.

‘I’ve come out in all of my schools. It’s quite the opposite of being hard – I was quite surprised, especially living in Tom Price, having such a small environment – there’s only three thousand people that live there, and having to teach their kids.

‘It’s such a family oriented town – it’s very mining based. That’s one thing I actually do enjoy in terms of the gay thing and not being discriminated against is the fact that Rio [Tinto] are quite anti-bullying. So if they hear that one of their workers has been discriminatory up there then they are basically out – they won’t have it.

‘In terms of that initial step out on the block I think it’s more of an internal thing with yourself, if you’re able to present yourself as a person just the same as anyone else would then I think there’s absolutely no issues. The Department I know is an equal opportunities workplace and therefore any sort of disrespect they’ll stamp on it just like they would with any sort of vilification.

‘I’d like to continue working in the arts because I feel that’s the future of education once again with students not being able to express themselves, like the arts will be the way that they are able to do it. Through drama through music but in terms of professionalism I would like to be able to become a mentor teacher I don’t want to go up the principal leadership role, but I’d like to be a leader in my own sort of way.’

Update: The original image for this story was replaced on Wednesday 17th June 2015. 

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