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Friendship provides vital support for teaching graduates

High school teachers reflect on sense of community at UOW Shoalhaven Campus

For three education graduates, studying at the University of Wollongong’s Shoalhaven Campus was about more than a degree. It was about the sense of community and support that the small campus provides.

Emma Talbert, Ellie King, and Claire Briggs, who all today graduated from UOW with a Master of Teaching (Secondary), have been together since the start of their academic journey.

They all began a Bachelor of Arts at Shoalhaven, each drawn to the quiet nature of the campus and the fact that they could study close to home.

Now, five years on, they are the best of friends. It is a friendship that has proved invaluable as they each take the leap into the world of secondary teaching.

“I had some amazing English teachers in Year 11, and they really inspired me and encouraged me to pursue teaching as a career,” said Emma, who is from North Nowra.

“I came to Shoalhaven to study the Bachelor of Arts and I loved it. The campus is really quiet and there is so much support for the teachers and other students.”

Emma was an AIME mentor during her time at Shoalhaven, and has now landed a position teaching English as a local high school.

Ellie, from North Nowra, said she always wanted to pursue teaching, and was inspired by the many family members who had established careers in education.

“Like Emma, I also had some great English teachers in high school, so I never wanted to do anything else. One of the great things about studying at Shoalhaven was that we knew everyone else in the class and there was a real sense of community on campus,” said Ellie, who is now an English/History teacher at a high school in Nowra.

Claire, who studied History/Geography for her chosen subjects and is now based on the Central Coast, said the friendships the trio have formed have been invaluable.

“I started primary teaching, then I realised I wanted to teach high schoolers. Being out in the world, teaching at a high school on the Central Coast, was nothing like I expected, and I don’t think anything can fully prepare you for that.

“Emma, Ellie and I all became best friends, right from the start of our Bachelor of Arts. It was amazing to have that support network throughout the course of our studies,” said Claire, who is from Sanctuary Point.

“We have all had different journeys, different ups and downs, throughout our degrees, but we have been there to support each other through it all.”

Studying at Shoalhaven has enabled Emma, Ellie, and Claire, to find exceptional mentors in their teachers, which has continued outside the classroom. They have also bonded with the others Master of

Teaching students, from both primary and secondary degrees, which enabled them to bounce ideas off each other.

Since finishing their studies, they have also continued to reach out to their former teachers for guidance as they begin their own teaching careers.

“There is just so much support and they are always happy to give their advice,” Emma said.

“It takes a special kind of person to be a teacher,” Ellie agreed. 

Pictured: Ellie King, Emma Talbert, and Claire Briggs. Photo credit: Paul Jones

Posted in Education
Tagged: graduation, Education