People often ask why I am a teacher. It wasn’t my first port of call and I once felt a sense of shame, that I chose teaching after my previous (somewhat socially higher valued) profession. Now I cannot imagine doing anything other than “cultivating learning”!
So what made me divert the course of my life?
Well it was a community of young indigenous boys in the centre of Australia. A group of boys that caused nothing but havoc to the organisation I was employed. Every program we implemented and every facility we renovated, they destroyed, hijacked or sabotaged! For my colleagues they were rogues, to me they cried out to be nurtured, their boundless energy harnessed, but most of all someone to give them a sense that there were greater possibilities, they needn’t be welfare dependent nor expect incarceration. This community was rife with young children affected by drugs and alcohol, violence and neglect. I worked with grandparents, amazing people frustrated and crying out for their babes to be saved. This is what hurt my heart. I thought I was on a path where I could “change the world and make a difference” but at times I was was watching it pass me by.
This was the moment I decided I shouldn’t give up on that ambition, it just had to be a different path. That path was education. When I called my mother to have that awkward conversation (I have written previously about how inspirational mum was/is to me), “umm mum (mom) you know that 4 years I spent at Uni…..”, she was nothing but affirming. In fact she said “these kids need people like you Rhoni, someone who only sees their potential”. That was it for me. I signed up for Education (Special Education) and have never looked back. My focus since has been how I can support students who need strong advocates to access the learning opportunities so many take for granted. This focus has taken place in the classroom as a teacher and beyond with an obligation to always seek the possibilities and not be hampered by or identified as their deficits.
In terms of leadership, it’s just not in my nature to be idle. When I see unfairness, inequity or something that just doesn’t sit right with me, I am compelled to act. My passion for having kids access opportunities drives me to build with others, a better education experience for all. I have always loved learning, it gives me chills to see my own children passionate about learning and it gives me an incredible joy knowing I have helped a child see their potential and go after it. I believe we (teachers) are important, I believe we can make a huge difference for our students and I know that our future is bright in the hands of kids when they are given opportunities to shine.
So really, I teach and lead to discover possibilities! To help students find the keys to unlock access to learning and passions.
I look forward to how this mentor program can support my development as a leader and help me increase the positive impact we have on young people by developing skills to construct and support a team of passionate educators. I enter this experience excited to connect with my mentor Jimmy Casas @casas_jimmy and fellow mentees Dana Corr @dcorr1 and Kevin Graham @KGrahamHWDSB.